OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt released a statement Thursday slamming the State Health Department settlement that established a nonbinary birth certificate option for newborns.
Oklahoma joined 14 other states and the District of Columbia in establishing a nonbinary birth certificate process after Oregon resident and Oklahoma native Kit Lorelied filed a federal lawsuit against the OSDH, according to a report from NonDoc.
Stitt's office called the settlement a "rogue" decision by the state, saying he'll be "taking whatever action necessary to protect Oklahoma values and our way of life."
“I believe that people are created by God to be male or female. Period," Stitt said in his statement. "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."
Meanwhile, the LGBTQ community is applauding the settlement. Toby Jenkins, CEO and Executive Director of Oklahomans for Equality, said it's good news for Oklahoma families, and especially for those who identify as nonbinary.
“This is an incredible step forward to help individuals who live among us, for them to be able to have a birth certificate which allows them to have legal documents such as passports and driver’s license and school records and things like that," Jenkins said.
Oklahoma State Commissioner of Health Dr. Lance Frye released a statement Thursday afternoon:
“A legal settlement regarding birth certificate designations was reached in May by the prior attorney general’s office. The Oklahoma State Department of Health will work with the Governor and Attorney General’s office for input and counsel on next steps. Our responsibility is to maintain vital statistics, and we will continue to do so in accordance with the laws of Oklahoma. Should a challenge to the previous agreement be made, we will proceed accordingly.”
Oklahoma State Sen. Micheal Bergstrom (R-Adair) filed Senate Bill 1100 on Wednesday which would restrict Oklahoma birth certificate gender options to male and female if signed into law.
“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.”
House Minority Leader Emily Virgin (D-Norman) blasted Governor Stitt's statement saying:
“This morning, the Governor used his pulpit to attack Oklahomans. Period. A national study estimated that 52 percent of transgender and non-binary young people in the United States seriously contemplated suicide last year. The Governor’s suggestion that non-binary people don’t qualify as Oklahomans is abhorrent and completely unbecoming of a governor. Moreover, it is dangerous. We are elected to help people not make their lives harder.”
The governor and state senator spoke out against the nonbinary status while sharing public office with the state's first nonbinary senator Mauree Turner (D-Oklahoma City) who voters elected last November.
This statement is real rich in more ways than one. If you are paying attention please notice every time our governor makes a statement it's about a community he hasn't been in communication with & while using his power to further oppress us all. Sounds familiar..1/9 https://t.co/0HkUPRcQYj
— Mauree Turner (They/Them) (@MaureeTurnerOK) October 21, 2021
The Senate's next legislative session is scheduled for Feb. 7.
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