Tag: State

Same-Sex Parents Win as State Department Backs Down in Two Cases Challenging Children’s Citizenship

Same-Sex Parents Win as State Department Backs Down in Two

In a significant victory for same-sex parents, the U.S. State Department on Monday backed down in two cases where it had been challenging the citizenship of children born abroad to married two-dad couples who were U.S. citizens.

Kiviti and Mize-Gregg families

The State Department withdrew its appeal in Kiviti vs. Pompeo, a case involving dads Roee and Adiel Kiviti, who legally married in California in 2013, and had their daughter Kessem via surrogacy in Canada in 2019. Because Kessem was born outside the U.S. and only has a biological connection to Adiel, however, the State Department considered Kessem as “born out of wedlock.” The department would not grant her citizenship unless she had a biological relationship to a U.S. citizen parent who had resided in the U.S. for five years. Even though both Roee and Adiel are U.S. citizens, Adiel was born in Israel and was one year short of the residency requirement.

The dads sued the State Department in 2019 with the help of Lambda Legal and Immigration Equality and pro bono counsel Morgan Lewis, arguing that the residency requirement didn’t apply to the children of married U.S. citizens. The U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland ruled in June that Kessem should be granted citizenship and that the Immigration and Nationality Act “does not require a biological relationship with both parents.”

After this week’s withdrawal by the State Department, Roee Kiviti said in a press statement:

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. The law was always clear. We knew it, the courts knew it, and now the State Department knows it, too.

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.

The State Department also said this week that it would not appeal the district court’s decision in Mize-Gregg v. Pompeo, where it had been challenging the citizenship of Simone Mize-Gregg, daughter of U.S. citizen’s Derek Mize and Jonathan Gregg. The men had legally married in New York in 2015 and now live in Atlanta, Georgia. In 2018, they had Simone via surrogacy in England and both fathers are listed on her birth certificate. Gregg himself had been born in London to a married U.S. citizen and was therefore a U.S. citizen since birth—but like Adiel Kiviti, was short of the five-year residency requirement in the U.S. That should not have been an issue, however, since he was married to a U.S. citizen—but the State Department refused Simone’s citizenship, treating her as “born out of wedlock.” The dads sued the State Department in 2019 with the help of the same organizations as the Kivitis. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia found in their favor  August.

Mize and Gregg said in a statement yesterday after the State Department said it would not appeal that decision:

We are extremely grateful that this fight is over and won. 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.

Two more couples have sued the State Department for similar reasons. In October, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Dvash-Banks family, recognizing their child’s birthright citizenship. And a case involving two moms is now before a district court in New Jersey. There’s no word yet on whether the State Department will withdraw in these cases as well, but as Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, senior attorney at Lambda Legal and one of the lawyers for the families, said yesterday, “We hope that the Trump Administration and the State Department will abide by these courts’ decisions when it encounters other families headed by same-sex couples. No family should have to go through what the Kiviti and Mize-Gregg families endured.”

Federal Court Orders U.S. State Dept. to Recognize Citizenship of Child with Married Same-Sex Parents

Federal Court Orders U.S. State Dept. to Recognize Citizenship of

A federal court yesterday ordered the U.S. State Department to recognize the citizenship of the two-year-old daughter of a married two-dad couple, both U.S. citizens, in the second immigration victory for same-sex parents this summer.

Derek Mize, Jonathan Gregg, and daughter Simone Mize-Gregg. Photo credit: Lambda Legal

Derek Mize, Jonathan Gregg, and daughter Simone Mize-Gregg. Photo credit: Lambda Legal

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia told the State Department that it must recognize the citizenship of Simone Mize-Gregg, daughter of Derek Mize and Jonathan Gregg, who married in New York in 2015 and now live in Atlanta, Georgia. In 2018, they had Simone via surrogacy in England and both fathers are listed on her birth certificate, Lambda Legal tells us. When they applied for recognition of Simone’s U.S. citizenship, however, the U.S. consulate in London rejected their application. Although both men are U.S. citizens, only one of them has a biological connection to Simone.

The State Department chose to disregard the men’s marriage and treat Simone as if she was born out of wedlock, although, as Lambda Legal explains, “The Immigration and Nationality Act [INA] states that children of married U.S. citizens born abroad are U.S. citizens from birth so long as one of their parents has lived in the U.S. at some point.” Despite this, “the State Department routinely denies that right to same-sex couples and their marital children.”

The couple sued the State Department in July 2019 with the help of Lambda Legal, Immigration Equality, and pro bono counsel Morgan Lewis. The court yesterday found that the INA “does not require children to share a biological relationship with both citizen parents in order for those children to acquire citizenship at birth.”

Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, senior counsel and health care strategist at Lambda Legal, said “The agency’s policy was irreconcilable with the law and our Constitution’s guarantee to equality because it treated the children of married, same-sex parents differently from the children of other married parents.”

This past June, another married two-dad couple in Maryland won a similar lawsuit against the Trump administration’s State Department—but the State Department has appealed. It has also appealed a 2019 ruling that found in favor of a married, two-dad family in California trying to secure citizenship for their child. And a two-mom family and their two sons in New Jersey are also still fighting the State Department for their right to be legally recognized as a family. (See more about them in my February 2019 piece.)

Aaron C. Morris, executive director of Immigration Equality, said of Mize and Gregg’s victory, “We celebrate the court’s decision, which acknowledges what has been true since the day she was born. Simone Mize-Gregg is a citizen of the United States. Today’s decision in Georgia reaffirms what every other federal court who has heard this issue has held: family means more than biology alone. The State Department should change its discriminatory and unconstitutional policy immediately before it hurts another family.”

Hear, hear.

Q & A With Kirsten Harris-Talley, A Queer Black Scorpio Femme and State Rep Candidate

Q & A With Kirsten Harris-Talley, A Queer Black Scorpio

Kirsten Harris-Talley is an organizing phenom in Seattle, a one-time city council member, a queer Black woman, an abolitionist, a candidate for state representative, a Scorpio rising, an Aries moon, and a Gemini/Taurus cusp sun.

After leading in the primaries, Harris-Talley will be running in November to represent Washington’s 37th District, a Seattle district historically populated by Black and Indigenous peoples and people of color. She has worked within and alongside people-powered movements for twenty years — experience which underpins her political agenda. Her career in reproductive justice led to midwifery and doula access for pregnant people in prisons. She has offered a commitment to funding these services, in addition to expanding reproductive healthcare coverage for undocumented immigrants and trans people. As a grassroots activist, she has fought for paths towards abolition. Her campaign platform envisions an end to state investment in private detention centers and the elimination of bail and solitary confinement.

For this Q & A, I told Kirsten I was interested in queering notions of political leadership — what can a “serious” political figure talk about and value publicly? Here she discusses the importance of culturally queer touchstones in her life: astrology, ancestry, vulnerability, community, crushes and femme joy.

I named that some people might call this content “trivial,” that there are demands on Black and brown women to sterilize their femmehood and to perform a white-washed, “masculine” dispassion as “proof” that they are fit for leadership. To this, she said, “On the other side of liberation, we should all be able to be more joyous in our lives. That’s how we know that we get there.”

Anis Gisele: Pronouns?

Kirsten Harris-Talley: She/her!

A: “Queer” is a political identity and an active verb. bell hooks has called “queer as being about the self that is at odds with everything around it and has to invent … a place to speak and to thrive and to live.”

This question is a two parter: what has your queerness given you, and how do you feel like you’re queering our notions of leadership?

K: I don’t know that I have ever verbally proclaimed my queerness as much in my life as I have campaigning. Political campaigning is bizarre. It’s the hardest, longest, most complicated job interview, as well it should be. You’re asking folks to trust you. So for me, understanding my queerness, it’s an interesting exercise to be announcing it so often and have folks asking me to prove it in some way. It’s an interesting query. (Laughs) I didn’t mean to make a pun.

A: I appreciate it!

K: And because “queer” is such an all-inclusive umbrella term, some folks just wanna identify what I mean by it.

I think queerness has always been about reinventing for yourself that which will not invite and hold you dear. And almost every bit of beauty in the world that all of us embrace, queer minds and bodies and spirits built those things.

For me, my queerness, I’m attracted to folks all along a gender spectrum — that’s actually infinite. And I think we’re all coming back to that — and I say “back to that” because there isn’t an indigenous culture that didn’t understand what we’re relearning for ourselves.

It’s interesting in this moment to still have some folks say, “I don’t do politics,” and for most of them what they’re saying is, “I’m scared of conflict, I’m scared of what it is to be out of concert with things,” and the intersection of queerness with any other identity, you’re always, I’m always in conflict in some way with things, just having a critical lens at all.

A: Definitely. My queerness helps me live in what I’m afraid of. I wasn’t positive you identify as femme, but I’m hearing you do? (K nods)

May I ask about your root? Which is either your first queer crush or the first time you saw an external embodiment of your queerness?

K: I don’t think I had a full pulse on it but … Grace Jones.

A: (Author’s note: Loud smack here. Honestly can’t remember if I slapped myself or clapped.)

K: I was born in ’79, grew up in the 80’s, right, and cable was new. Our mother is white, our father is Black, and we were Black kids growing up in deep poverty in rural Missouri. One of our favorite shows was Pee-wee Herman’s Playhouse, and I remember Grace Jones on there with this fabulous hat and this dance and the way she, like, stood. I remember thinking, “This is a woman, but they’re handsome and okay with that,” and I remember being compelled by that and not understanding it totally but knowing I was very interested. (Laughs)

A: Yes!

K: It was unlike anything I would’ve experienced in my everyday life too.

A: I feel like a root, often, is about seeing a woman — and in your case definitely a Black woman — who does not give a fuck about the male gaze.

K: She didn’t care about any gaze, right?

A: For sure. If your sun were a character from The L Word, who would that be?

K: Who was Pam Grier’s character?

A: KIT! Kit sun?

K: I’m very high energy as a cusp. My cusp is the cusp of energy. I can go go go go go. You got your earth and your air thing.

Being a Taurus Gemini, I’m like, “Thank you very — oh, squirrel!” And Kit had that energy.

A: She did. She really did. Do you feel your Scorpio rising?

K: Scorpio energy, I feel like, is culturally what it is to be a Black femme.

A: Say more?

K: Truth tellers. How much that is the role of Black femmes in our culture.

A: Agreed.

K: The hard thing about being a truth teller is when you can so clearly see the truth and name it and find there are some folks who either want to ignore it or actively try to undermine it. That’s what’s so startling about the blatant context of politics in the United States now. I say “blatant context” because nothing happening under the current president is new for our community. It’s just the blatancy of what’s happening that’s new for a lot of people. We talk about misinformation more than information now. It’s an interesting time for truth tellers.

Many of the things around Scorpio I had to learn how to be, and I learned it mostly through Black queer folks and Black femmes particularly. Being vulnerable emotionally is not easy for Black femmes. We’re not allowed to have that, and Scorpios can be very transparent about the emotional life. That’s something I’ve had to nurture over time and build safety for myself to do readily.

A: Does an Aries moon resonate with you, the fire, spontaneity?

K: It does. I’ve been involved with the local police abolition work since 2012, acutely with the consent decree and the Block the Bunker campaign. [Former] Mayor [Ed] Murray had a lot of power during the start of police contract negotiations. Community came together, and we shelved the most expensive police precinct that was going to be built in the history of North America. The strategy and sophistication of that campaign — it was constantly having folks be like, “Oh, I know what they’re [the cop-aganda’s] doing, I’m gonna do this now.” It was us being able to (snaps) flip on a dime and respond in that moment. That spontaneity is the only way forward because the folks crafting what we’re living in now are doing it very deliberately and we have to move quickly.

That campaign was asking the core questions that we should have had answers to as a community: “Why are we spending this money? Why are we spending it this way? Who’s responsible? Who’s accountable? How did this happen?” There weren’t answers that satisfied people, and we kept asking until finally he got a poll that said he wasn’t gonna win on it.

A: Okay, your childhood is a TV series. What would the first scene in the pilot episode be?

K: (Laughs) Oh, wow. My people are from the East coast. My mother is from Ohio. My father’s from Baltimore. So really plainspoken people, they speak their minds. Debate was welcomed and healthy. I jive with a lot of people who are overlapping talkers. I can also literally carry five conversations at once.

A: Gemini.

K: (Laughs) There would definitely have to be some scene at the dinner table and everyone’s there and five things are happening and a conversation starts and ends then gets picked up and there’s maybe a squabble and everyone makes up and laughs. Missouri is called the Show Me State. Folks are really plain about whatever they think.

But no food fights. That’s one thing culturally in my family — we find food fights very disrespectful on so many levels. I remember, in shows, that was a big thing in the 80’s — people would break out into food fights. I was always like, “That’s … (lowers voice) not right.”

A: (Laughs) Sneaker queer, stiletto queer or combat boot queer?

K: … Yes.

(Both laugh)

A: YES.

K: I have a lot of shoes. I have a lot of moods to invite footwear. I like all those moments, all of them.

A: That’s what the people want to know. Outfit that feels like second skin to you?

K: Right now I’ve been living in these great burgundy joggers with really deep pockets and usually a really cozy goldenrod or yellow shirt. I’ve been wearing a lot of my protest shirts, of course, lately, going to lots of marches.

A: Would you describe a protest shirt?

K: Yeah! Leona and Luis own The Station in Beacon Hill. She made these amazing shirts that say, “Stop Fucking Killng Us,” and I was like, “I need that shirt.” I think it’s pretty clear!

My other one, I really adore, it’s like, “NAH,” then it’s like, “Rosa Parks.” I love thinking, like, [the white bus driver] came up, and they were like, “Ma’am (laughs), you’re gonna have to move to the back of the bus,” and she’s just like, “NAH. I’m not, and also, we’ve already organized, and you don’t even know what’s happening tomorrow.”

A: Yes! Okay, Ijeoma Oluo says, “White supremacy requires a lack of imagination, that you don’t ask where else we can go.” Imagination exercise: When we abolish prisons, what would you propose we do with the land the prisons were on?

K: Give them right back to indigenous people and let them imagine with other folks of color what to build there instead. I mean, where else could you start but to do that, to literally free the land back to the people who were the original stewards of that land to start anew collectively with others?

A: Yes. You said in a Crosscut interview, “I don’t think you can be in a position where you’re representing the people and not actually be with the people.” How did you learn to share power?

K: Oh, that’s a beautiful question. I really learned it from my mom and the elders in my life. Growing up where I grew up, in a rural community, we have close proximity to elders, and I really listened to their stories, and all their stories were about collectiveness, and where we lived was about collectiveness, like you can’t be in rural Missouri and have your cows get past the fence and not call every neighbor to come help you get them back. My godmother — Hazel Mae Free was her name — we spent our summers on our farm where she and Mr. Free, our godfather, taught me so much about that. They were stewards of their land, and it was a huge dream of theirs to own their own land and farm their own land. She grew up as the daughter of sharecroppers and had to quit school to pick crops as a child. We grew up poor poor poor poor poor. Everyone worked collectively to make sure everyone had what they needed — it’s the only way. And it stuck. It stuck.

A: What everyday practices or everyday magic connects you to your ancestors?

K: I have always been a collector of beautiful objects, and I have a lot of objects from the elders who are no longer with me in my life. My grandma Mary lived in segregated Baltimore, and she raised her four boys under what I can’t even imagine — what it was to raise four Black boys in segregated Baltimore during the height of the civil rights movement, you know? Her birth stone was a garnet, so I have a lot of garnets around, things that remind me of her.

A: This has been really lovely, thank you, Kirsten. I’m wondering if we can end with a look forward. Who is a youth activist, artist or cultural worker you find exciting?

K: Wow. I really love Jerrell Rell Be Free‘s work. I love that every bit of activism right now has been integrated in the arts. Folks try to neutralize the impact of the arts and pretend that it’s something that’s saccharine and just about pleasure, and so much of the arts is actually about struggle and truth-telling and recording these stories that can’t be told in any other way. Jerrell’s someone who’s on the front end of this work at places like WA-BLOC and speaking truth that we can hear it in a way that we wouldn’t hear it before.

State GOP proudly endorses candidate after he goes on homophobic Facebook tear / Queerty

State GOP proudly endorses candidate after he goes on homophobic

Mike Cargile is a Republican currently running for California’s 35th U.S. House seat. Not too long ago, he nabbed an endorsement from his state’s Republican Party after making a string of homophobic remarks on social media.

In addition to calling coronavirus a “scamdemic” and peddling the QAnon conspiracy theory that Trump is trying to abolish a shadowy international child trafficking ring, Cargile believes the LGBTQ rights movement is out to destroy America.

In a May 31, 2019 Facebook post, he wrote: “We live in a society where homosexuals lecture us on morals, transvestites lecture us on human biology, baby killers lecture us on human rights and socialists lecture us on economics.”

On July 2, 2019, he wrote: “Thank a straight person today for your existence: Straight pride.”

And on August 29, 2019, he suggested schools that teaching LGBTQ history should start with Sodom and Gomorrah.

But that’s just the beginning. Some of the memes he’s shared are even worse.

Of course, like most bigots, Cargile’s hatred is not just limited to homosexuals. He has also made disparaging remarks about Black people, Mexicans, and Muslims, among others.

The California Republican Party endorsed Cargile back in January, long after he posted the hateful remarks and memes on Facebook.

“Mike Cargile is running for Congress in the 35th District because he believes that Democrat leadership and mismanagement have nearly destroyed our beautiful state,” the group said. “We are proud to endorse Mike Cargile for Congress (CA-35), which is based in the Inland Empire.”

And for six months, the party was just fine with his beliefs… until another story about Cargile using the N-word made national headlines this week. That’s when it decided enough was enough.

Earlier today, the California GOP pulled its endorsement, quietly removing Cargile’s name from its website without issuing any further comment on the matter. Its endorsement of him still remains up on the group’s official Facebook page, however.

Meanwhile, Cargile put out a statement saying something about how he’s a Christian and how we need to “cancel the cancel culture.”

Cargile will face off against Democrat incumbent Norma Torres in November.

New York state will help LGBTQ+ prospective parents attain surrogacy contracts

New York state will help LGBTQ+ prospective parents attain surrogacy

Family Equality announced:

Today New York passed the #ChildParentSecurityAct to help millions of New Yorkers need assistance building their families, including LGBTQ+ prospective parents. #LoveMakesaFamilyNY

Thanks to all of you — the advocates — who raised your voices in Albany and across New York State to explain why we need to ensure everyone who wants to become a parent can do so.

Family Equality is here to fight to ensure every LGBTQ+ person can form a family using whatever method they chose, wherever they live. Yesterday, New York was still one of three states in which surrogacy was illegal. Today, thanks to you, that’s no longer the case.

Now, for the first time in history, a same-sex couple will be able to sign a form at the hospital that declares who their child’s parents are and have that create a legally-binding order with the same force as a court order. This has always been available to heterosexual partners.

Updating state parentage law to help LGBTQ+ families can be a slow, painstaking process, and fighting to pass the #ChildParentSecurityAct in NY was no exception. But we did it.