Oklahoma Governor Orders Halt to Nonbinary Birth Certificates

By Mimi Nguyen Ly
Mimi Nguyen Ly
Mimi Nguyen Ly
Mimi Nguyen Ly is a reporter based in Australia. She covers world news with a focus on U.S. news. Contact her at mimi.nl@epochtimes.com
November 11, 2021 Updated: November 14, 2021

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed an executive order to stop the state’s health department from amending and issuing birth certificates to assign a nonbinary gender to people who identify as such.

The new executive order (pdf), filed on Nov. 8, said that Stitt and his administration did not approve the settlement agreement from the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) that requires it to amend birth certificates in a manner Stitt said is “not permitted under Oklahoma Law.”

Oregon resident Kit Lorelied, who was born in Oklahoma, identifies as nonbinary, and uses “they/them” pronouns, had sued after the OSDH initially refused a request to have a nonbinary designation on her birth certificate.

The department, represented by the Office of the Attorney General, reached a settlement in May in which it agreed to add nonbinary as an option on birth certificates.

Stitt and other Republican leaders in the Legislature expressed outrage after learning of the decision last month, and the Commissioner of Health Lance Frye resigned the following day.

Stitt’s executive order states: “This order ensures this unauthorized action will be corrected.”

The executive order reads, in part: “Oklahoma Statute 63 establishes how and when a birth certificate may be amended under Oklahoma Law. Neither this statute nor Oklahoma law otherwise provide OSDH any legal ability in any way alter a person’s sex or gender on a birth certificate … [or] give the agency authority to enter agreements that circumvent the laws of this state.”

According to the order, the OSDH must immediately cease issuing nonbinary birth certificates and remove from its website any reference to amending birth certificates inconsistent with the department’s authority.

The department must also inform the governor’s office of any pending litigation related to amending birth certificates in Oklahoma.

Stitt in his order encouraged state lawmakers to pass legislation when it returns next year to “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.”

He also urged the Legislature to immediately include in the legislation a provision that requires the commissioner of health “to promulgate any administrative rules necessary to effectuate the purposes of this statute.”

The OSDH in a statement in response to Stitt’s order said, “Pursuant to the executive order, they will continue to amend birth certificates as allowed by law,” adding that it will work with the governor and the state attorney for any amendments that may “fall outside of Oklahoma Statute 63,” reported KWTV.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Mimi Nguyen Ly is a reporter based in Australia. She covers world news with a focus on U.S. news. Contact her at mimi.nl@epochtimes.com