Each week, Queerty picks one blowhard, hypocrite, airhead, sanctimonious prick or other enemy of all that is queer to be the Douche of the Week.
Have a nominee for DOTW? E-mail it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
But in Indiana, the Bureau of Motor Vehicles has really gone above and beyond the call of duty by putting the kibosh on specialty plates that benefit LGBT nonprofits. So we hereby name the BMV the Douche of the Week.
God that feels so good!
Specialty license plates that help gay groups are all the rage—they’ve popped up in South Carolina and Maryland. Indiana was the first state to issue them but, sadly, activists had to win a court battle in 2010 to get the BMV to get on board.
Since then, though, everything was running smoothly.
Until right-wing group Advance America found out about the deal: AA leader Eric Miller and State Rep. Jeff Thompson (R-Lizton) are so freaked out about the gay tags, they’re pushing the BMV to kill the specialty-plate program altogether. On Wednesday a House committee approved an amendment that would stop the sale of new specialty plates and end the production of existing plates that didn’t sell at least 1,000 units, reports WISH TV Channel 8.
The bill now moves to a House vote.
The Indiana Youth Group, one of the organizations benefiting from the LGBT plates, says it has a legitimate five-year contract with the BMV that’s already bearing fruit:
We sold 127 last month, and that was without marketing because we hadn’t really gotten everything going,” said Mary Byrne, director of Indiana Youth Group, which has helped at-risk LGBT kids for a quarter-century. “I think that once certain groups caught wind that we had the plate, that’s when the amendments started in the legislature on to different bills.
The Washington Post reports that Indiana nonprofits get $25 out of every $40 spent on a specialty plate. In 2011, more than 420,000 were sold, netting the groups more than $11 million.
But the BMV says provisions in their contracts with these groups allow it to walk away from its promise to issue the tags if this new amendment is passed.
Now we’re not legal scholars but we would think the state can’t double-back and pass legislation just to get itself out of a contract it thinks might upset some people.
Actually WISH Channel 8 went to a legal scholar, Indiana University law professor Antony Page, and asked him to look over Indiana Youth Group’s 19-page agreement with with the state motor-vehicle board.
“As far as a clear termination right, that provision has been deleted,” he said.
Sure enough, the contract clearly states that by agreement of both parties, the termination right is deleted.
Page said unless there’s something in the contract that gives the Bureau of Motor Vehicles the right to walk away, in this situation, it would be a breach of contract.
The BMV says there are three provisions in the contract that do give it the right to walk away.
But Page said that right is not clear-cut, and the non-profits could make an argument against the state if any or all went to court
Page also said the Indiana Youth Group could make a First Amendment argument claiming discrimination. Even though the provisions of the law appear to be neutral, the circumstances around it could be used in a court to argue the law was passed simply to keep Indiana Youth Group from selling its plate.
Obviously its not just Indiana Youth Group that would suffer: Other groups with plates, like the National Wild Turkey Foundation and the anti-abortion Indiana Association of Pregnancy Centers would lose their license plates—and a precious revenue stream—if the BMV gets its way.
All together now: What a douche!
Photos: Michael Ocampo WISH