State Watch

Republican Oklahoma governor orders halt to nonbinary birth certificates

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) signed an executive order on Monday halting the state from issuing nonbinary birth certificates. 

The order mandates the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) to “cease amending birth certificates” in any way that is inconsistent with state law, and to “remove from its website any reference to amending birth certificates” that doesn’t align with state law.

Stitt further urged the Oklahoma state legislature to “immediately pass legislation that will clarify, to the extent necessary, that changes in sex or gender on a birth certificate, or a designation of non-binary is contrary to Oklahoma law.”

Stitt’s mandate referenced a settlement that the health department entered, under which the agency is required “to amend birth certificates in a manner not permitted under Oklahoma Law.”

According to local NBC affiliate KFOR, Kit Vivien Lorelied, who identifies as nonbinary, filed a federal lawsuit against the health department in August 2020 after the department denied their request have a name and sex change on their Oklahoma birth certificate in December 2019.

In denying the request, the agency said that it could change Lorelied’s name, but having their sex changed to nonbinary was not an option.

As part of the settlement, the department issued a nonbinary birth certificate to Lorelied last month, according to The Oklahoman.  

The agency also agreed to update its website within 30 days of issuing their birth certificate to indicate that it will now issue birth certificates labeling gender “X” upon a court order, the newspaper noted.  

Stitt condemned the settlement in late October, saying, “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,” he continued.

In a statement to The Hill, the Oklahoma State Department of Health said it “stands committed to serving the citizens of Oklahoma in maintaining the integrity of vital records.” 

“Pursuant to Governor Stitt’s Executive Order, OSDH will continue to amend birth certificates as allowed by law. These amendments will include legal change of name or corrections of errors. OSDH will work with the Governor and Attorney General on any orders for amendments that may fall outside the scope of 63 O.S. 1-321,” the statement continued, referencing an Oklahoma statute governing the amendment of state certificates and records. The statute makes no mention of sex or gender designations on birth certificates.

“OSDH will continue to uphold its mandate in the area of vital statistics within the authority granted by the Oklahoma Legislature,” the statement said.

Fifteen states allow residents to mark their birth certificates with male, female or “X” gender, according to the Movement Advancement Project. Twenty-four states and the District of Columbia issue new birth certificates without sex reassignment surgery or a court order.

— Updated at 5:08 p.m.

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