Thursday, October 21, 2021

House GOP: attempted "nonbinary" birth certificate settlement did not follow legal process


Attempted nonbinary birth certificate settlement did not follow process in law

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.

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