Trump administration finally gives up its fight to deny US citizenship to children of same-sex couples

Roee and Adiel Kiviti with baby Kessem and her brother Lev Trump administration gay couple

The Trump administration has finally conceded defeat after fighting to deny US citizenship to the children of same-sex couples.

Federal district courts say the US state department’s protracted legal battle against two LGBT+ families was unlawful and raised serious constitutional issues.

In both cases, Kiviti v Pompeo and Mize-Gregg v Pompeo, the children were born abroad to a surrogate. Although their parents were legally married US citizens, the Trump administration refused to recognise the same-sex marriages as legally valid, meaning it classified the children as “born out of wedlock”.

The families argued the current policy treats married same-sex couples as if their marriages don’t exist, making their treatment very different from married straight couples, violating the law and the American constitution.

The courts ruled in their favour and held that for the children of married parents, the law required no biological connection to a parent in order for the child to be born a citizen.

Their victories became final last week when the state department eventually withdrew its appeal in one case and decided not to appeal in the second.

“We are very relieved, on behalf of our daughter, on behalf of our family, and on behalf of LGBT+ families across this great country of ours,” said Roee Kiviti, one of the plaintiffs. “The law was always clear. We knew it, the courts knew it, and now the state department knows it, too.”

His husband Adiel Kiviti added: “This was never just about us. It was always about standing up for what’s right. We are grateful to those who did it before us, and we are humbled to be a part of the ongoing struggle for justice.”

Trump administration refused to issue gay couples’ children with US passports.

The Kivitis have two children who were conceived by Canadian surrogates in 2016 and 2019. The citizenship of their eldest child was never questioned because the Obama administration recognised the Kivitis’ marriage as legal, but when their second child was born the Trump administration refused to issue her with a passport.

The same happened to UK-American couple Derek Mize and Jonathan Gregg, whose daughter Simone was born to a British surrogate in 2018.

“We are extremely grateful that this fight is over and won,” Mize and Gregg said. “All we ever wanted was for Simone to be treated fairly. This process has reaffirmed for us that standing up for equal treatment is always right, no matter how difficult it is or long it may take.”

Both couples were represented by the LGBT+ advocacy group Lambda Legal, which condemned the state department’s “attempt to insert a harmful, baseless biology requirement” into the citizenship protections children of married citizen parents receive.

“In so doing, these courts kept the promise of Obergefell that married same-sex couples are entitled to the full range of marital protections, and that includes the right to be recognised as their children’s parents regardless of who has a biological connection,” saidKaren Loewy, senior counsel at Lambda Legal.