OKLAHOMA CITY – An attempted executive branch legal settlement to authorize nonbinary birth certificates in Oklahoma failed to follow a legal process outlined in state law, House Republican leadership said Thursday.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health reportedly entered into a federal lawsuit settlement authorizing a process to add nonbinary to the gender section of Oklahoma birth certificates, but never notified proper authorities as required by law.
“Failure by the executive branch agency to follow the proper legal process means this is not a valid agreement,” said House Speaker Pro Tempore Terry O’Donnell, R-Catoosa, an attorney.
Title 74, Section 20f of Oklahoma law requires that a “settlement involving injunctive relief which substantially impacts the operation or programs of a state agency…shall be reviewed prior to its finalization by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate or his designee, the Speaker of the House or his designee, and the Governor or his designee.”
The law says the Senate president pro tempore, House speaker and governor “shall be given a reasonable time in which to make recommendations regarding the proposed settlement” for the executive branch agency and attorney general to consider before finalizing a settlement agreement.
“My office was never approached about this matter,” said House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka. “The agreement is invalid and unenforceable. Slowing this down so the complete process can be followed is the proper course of action by the governor. This executive branch agency acted outside its scope of authority, and now the governor, as the leader of that branch of government, must correct it immediately through executive order.”
The full law can be read by clicking here.
“Since the legally required review never occurred in this case, the executive branch should not accept the settlement until it does. A settlement like this cannot be made solely by unelected executive branch agency employees because of the clearly substantial impact on the agency,” O’Donnell said.
The speaker’s office released this statement earlier on Thursday:
“Unelected employees in the executive branch of government have no authority to make decisions of this magnitude. The vast majority of elected House members expect the governor, as the elected leader of the executive branch, to immediately take executive action to follow through on his pledge to undo this. This executive branch agency acted outside its scope of authority, and now the governor, as the leader of that branch of government, must correct it immediately through executive order.”
These statements come following a policy implementation by the State Health Department. On Oct. 7, an Oregon resident who was born in Oklahoma petitioned the OSHD to reissue a birth certificate with the sex now identified as nonbinary.