FFRF to Okla. Gov. Stitt: Stop the religiously inspired gender essentialism


Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt’s recent religiously motivated gender essentialist comments are reprehensible, says the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

After the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) issued a gender-neutral birth certificate, the governor remarked, “I believe that people are created by God to be male or female. Period. There is no such thing as nonbinary 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.”

The governor’s personal religious beliefs are neither the state of Oklahoma’s nor of all Oklahomans, and it is beyond his “authority as a secular government official to take any governmental action based on a personal religious belief,” FFRF Co-Presidents Annie Laurie Gaylor and Dan Barker assert in a letter to the governor.

“The only legitimate reason to challenge such a decision would be if there were some practical, secular problem with issuing gender-neutral birth certificates,” the letter states. “If there were such arguments, you would make them. Instead, you point to your god. This is yet another reason why our Founders were wise to steer clear of theocratic rule by officially separating state and church.”

The type of certificate issuance that the Oklahoma State Department of Health is engaging in is important in destigmatizing gender-nonconforming people, FFRF contends, as they may face marginalization and bigotry due to a mismatched gender on their certificate and therefore on other documents, as well. The argument that “God made people male or female and nothing in between” is a cheap statement, based as it is on a theocratic worldview, considering that “24 percent of Americans identify as nonreligious, and another 6 percent are non-Christians.”

A core principle of the U.S. Constitution is the separation of church and state. The Supreme Court has said: “No official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.”

Therefore, Gov. Stitt must not allow his personal religious beliefs to interfere with how he governs an entire state. Instead, he must rely on reason and science to make informed decisions for everyone, FFRF concludes.

FFRF is a national nonprofit organization with more than 35,000 members across the country, including in Oklahoma. FFRF’s purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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