INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana agencies are not allowed to use an “X" gender designation on identification documents for residents who don't identify as male or female, the state attorney general said.
On Monday, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill Jr. said in an official opinion that agencies must have strict direction from the state legislature to adopt the nonbinary identifier, The Times of Northwest Indiana reported. Republican Sen. Jim Tomes requested Hill's opinion.
State law requires applications for driver’s licenses or state IDs to include information about the person's gender.
Hill, a Republican, said the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and State Department of Health exceeded their authority when they briefly allowed nonbinary individuals to apply for a driver's license, state identification card or birth certificate with an "X" marker.
"Administrative agencies like the BMV and the ISDH are creatures of the Legislature whose powers are limited to their authorizing statutes," Hill said.
The BMV did not respond to Hill's opinion, but it said it is reviewing his statement and figuring out how to proceed. An attorney general's opinion is not legally binding.
Democratic Sen. J.D. Ford, who is Indiana’s only openly gay state lawmaker, criticized Hill’s opinion in a statement released Tuesday.
“Why are we so against inclusion in our state? We are all human beings, deserving of dignity, and I applaud the BMV for recognizing that, Ford said.
Hill noted that state law only authorizes Indiana residents to identify as male or female.
"Individuals wishing to change their binary designation on a driver's license or identification card may continue to utilize the process currently provided by BMV rules," Hill added.
Hill, who is seeking a second term, is awaiting a state Supreme Court decision on whether he’ll face any punishment for alleged professional misconduct stemming from allegations that he drunkenly groped four women, including a state legislature. He denied any wrongdoing during an October hearing. Former state Supreme Court Justice Myra Selby, who heard four days of testimony about the allegations, recommended in February that Hill’s law license be suspended for at least 60 days, writing that his “conduct was offensive, invasive, damaging and embarrassing” to the women.