An Atlanta man is suing the Georgia Department of Driver Services, claiming it violated his rights when it denied his application for license plates with the tags “4GAYLIB,” “GAYPWR” and “GAYGUY.”
“It’s not like I was asking for something that was vulgar or over the top,” plaintiff James Cyrus Gilbert told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Denying someone the right to put gay on their tag, that’s political. If I wanted I could get a tag that said ‘straight man,’ but because it had ‘gay’ on it, it’s not available.”
All three of Gilbert’s requested tags are on the state’s banned-plates list, even though “JESUS4U” made the grade. The list generally prohibits vulgar phrases, as well as some religious, philosophical and political expressions. But as the Journal-Constitution explains, it’s methodology is inconsistent:
An AJC analysis of banned and approved vanity plates found the difference between 10,214 banned tags and the 91,151 accepted tags is sometimes ridiculously ambiguous.
The state Attorney General’s office, Georgia Department of Driver Services and the Department of Revenue, the agency that administers vanity plates, declined to comment on the lawsuit.
But Department of Revenue officials have acknowledged in the past that the process of approving vanity plates is inconsistent. State officials approved HATERS, but denied HATERS1. They approved BLKBERI, BLKCHRY and BLCBUTI, but denied BLKACE.
The inconsistency is the result of many different people with differing views making decisions on what is offensive, a Department of Revenue spokesman told the AJC.
Gilbert is asking for his plates to be approved, and a court order declaring regulations that govern vanity plates unconstitutional.