Attorney General Phil Weiser defends rights of Coloradan and other gender non-binary individuals in federal passport case
May 15, 2019 (DENVER, Colo.) – Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser and the Attorneys General of California and Oregon are leading a coalition of states in defending the rights of individuals to select a non-binary gender designation on U.S. passports.
In a brief filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in Zzyym vs. Pompeo, the Attorneys General explain that individuals who do not identify as male or female deserve full legal recognition of their accurate gender identity on passports issued by the U.S. State Department. The Department says it is trying to avoid “matching issues” with federal and state identifying documents. However, multiple states, including Colorado, already issue driver licenses and other forms of identification with a non-binary designation to ensure the public safety and well-being of their residents.
“Coloradans use state-issued identification documents every day to interact with government agencies, law enforcement, and businesses. Providing non-binary identification documents in our state is easy to manage, respects our citizens’ gender identity, and is the right thing to do,” said Weiser. “The federal government needs to catch up with the states that are leading the way when it comes to equality. All Americans should be able to obtain a passport that accurately reflects their gender.”
The case at issue is Zzyym vs. Pompeo. In 2015, Dana Zzyym, a resident of Fort Collins, Colo. who was born intersex and identifies as non-binary, was denied a passport after they did not designate “male” or “female” on their application and instead designated “intersex”. In 2016, a federal judge asked the Department to reconsider its refusal to issue a passport. Following that decision, Zzyym’s application was again denied on the basis of their non-binary gender.
In September 2018, the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado found that the Department’s gender policy was arbitrary and capricious and that the passport application denial violated the law. The federal government appealed the decision and it is now before the federal appeals court in Denver.
Attorney General Weiser is joined by the Attorneys General of California, Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.
A copy of the amicus brief filed in Zzyym v. Pompeo can be found here.
Lawrence Pacheco, Director of Communications
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