OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt and other Republican leaders expressed outrage Thursday after learning the State Department of Health issued a birth certificate this year with a nonbinary gender designation.
The agency issued the birth certificate in May to Oregon resident Kit Lorelied, who was born in Oklahoma, identifies as nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns. People who are nonbinary do not identify with traditional male or female gender assignments.
Lorelied sued after the Oklahoma State Department of Health initially refused the request. 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.
Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt condemned the settlement Thursday.
“I believe that people are created by God to be male or female. Period,” Stitt said in a 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.”
A spokeswoman for Stitt did not immediately respond to a message seeking to clarify who the governor alleged was a rogue activist. The agreement was reached by Lorelied’s attorney, the Department of Health and the Office of the Attorney General.
Seventeen states and the District of Columbia currently recognize nonbinary gender status and permit such designation on identifying documents, according to Lorelied’s lawsuit.
Oklahoma’s health commissioner, Dr. Lance Frye, said in a statement that the settlement was reached under the administration of former Attorney General Mike Hunter and that the agency was working with Stitt and new Attorney General John O’Connor on how to proceed.
“Should a challenge to the previous agreement be made, we will proceed accordingly,” Frye said.
Lorelied’s attorney, Christopher Brecht, said his client was very happy with the settlement and that he was surprised at the outrage from GOP leaders.
“I certainly don’t understand the vehement objection to something like this,” he said. “I don’t understand how this impacts binary individuals, so the swift opposition is surprising to me.”
Brecht said his client simply wanted a birth certificate that reflected who they are.
“From my perspective, having the very first thing that identifies you to the world, to have that not identify you accurately, I can’t think of anything more degrading,” he said.
Statements from House Speaker Charles McCall and Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat said the settlement amounted to unauthorized overreach by executive agencies.
State Sen. Micheal Bergstrom, a Republican from Adair, has filed a bill for the upcoming session that would require male and female to be the only options on birth certificates.