Gov. Stitt orders halt to Oklahoma nonbinary birth certificates

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Birth Certificates and family tree

Birth Certificates and family tree

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Governor Kevin Stitt has issued an executive order to stop the Oklahoma State Department of Health from issuing nonbinary birth certificates.

“Neither this statute nor Oklahoma law otherwise provide OSDH or others any legal ability to in any way alter a person’s sex or gender on a birth certificate,” said Stitt in the order. “Moreover, neither this statute nor OSDH’s administrative rules, give the agency authority to enter agreements that circumvent the laws of this state.”

The order demands OSDH cease amending birth certificates, remove reference of amending birth certificates from its website, and inform the governor of any pending litigation regarding certificate amendments or other pertinent information.

In December 2019, Kit Vivien Lorelied applied to make changes to their Oklahoma birth certificate. The changes they requested were to their name and sex. Lorelied is non-binary and uses the pronouns they/them/their.

In a letter to Lorelied, the Oklahoma State Department of Health stated that they could change their name but could not amend sex to non-binary.

“‘Non-binary’ is not an option in Oklahoma for birth records. If you choose to amend your birth record to reflect male, the order will need to be modified to reflect that and then we will need a certified copy of that order,” the letter from the OSDH read.

After the change on the birth certificate was denied, Lorelied filed a lawsuit against several members of the Oklahoma State Department of Health in August of 2020.

Attorneys for Lorelied state that denying the change violates the United States Constitution, adding that there was no real reason the government should deny such a change.

After the lawsuit was filed, the Oklahoma State Department of Health agreed to settle the federal suit and change its practices.

Because of that settlement, Oklahomans can change the sex designation on their birth certificate if they obtain a court order from an Oklahoma court. A certified copy of the court order then must be given to the Oklahoma Office of Vital Records before the change is made, according to Nondoc.

“I believe that people are created by God to be male or female. Period. There is no such thing as non-binary sex and I wholeheartedly condemn the purported OSDH court settlement that was entered into by rogue activists who acted without receiving proper approval or oversight…I will be taking whatever action necessary to protect Oklahoma values and our way of life,” Gov. Kevin Stitt said in a statement following the settlement.

In October, Sen. Micheal Bergstrom filed State Bill 1100, which would restrict birth certificate gender options to male and female in Oklahoma.

“I was assured by the State Department of Health a couple months ago that they had no intention of adding another sex option to birth certificates, but they recently approved a non-binary option,” Bergstrom said. “We’re at an odd time in history where people are seemingly forgetting science and biology and casting common sense out the window. When babies are born, they are either born male or female based on their chromosomes and genitals. Allowing anything else to be listed on a birth certificate is ludicrous, and it’s time we clarify this in our statutes.”

Freedom Oklahoma issued the following statement today following Stitt’s executive order:

“Governor Stitt choosing to enshrine in executive disorder the level to which he was unaware of the settlement that resulted in Oklahoma’s first X-gender marker amended birth certificate is more of a comment on the dysfunction of the Executive branch than anything else. 

As we have noted previously, the question was not one of if people have the right to have X-gender markers in Oklahoma, but rather about the process of how. Law requires people have government documents for everything from receiving their COVID-19 vaccine to engaging in their right to vote. So long as that is the case, there is a necessity for people to have documents that accurately reflect who they are. And the fact of the matter is and always have been people here who do not fit within the gender binary. While the executive order is full of attacks suggesting the Health Department, and by extension, the Attorney General’s office, violated statute in entering into the legal settlement, it also ignores that the separation of powers exists for exactly a moment like this in which the Governor does not have the authority to overturn an agreement entered into in a court of law. 

We are sure in the midst of scrutiny around intentionally torturous executions and asks that he show political courage in response, it felt easy for the Governor to try and refocus media narratives and partisan pressure by attacking some of the most marginalized and historically excluded residents of our state. Our team at Freedom Oklahoma stands firm in our commitment to engage in advocacy that both exposes the inner workings of the Legislature and Executive branch to our 2SLGBTQ+ community and centers 2SLGBTQ+ voices in our work and advocacy. February looms ahead with the promise of attacks that seek to make scapegoats of 2SLGBTQ+ Oklahomans and continue to deny and limit our rights and freedoms under the law. And for that session and each one after it, we are ready to do the work. 

Freedom Oklahoma’s next scheduled Name and Gender Marker Change Clinic in conjunction with the Diversity Center and OUtlaw students at the OU School of Law is scheduled for Saturday, November 13, 2021. Applicants can register here. Those wishing to support this critical work can give directly or to our work more broadly.”

Nicole McAfee, Freedom Oklahoma Executive Director

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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