Need Another Reason To Hate The DMV? They’re Homophobic, Too!

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 [email protected].

It’s not exactly selling ice to Eskimos to get people to hate their local Department of Motor Vehicles. The lines. The red tape. The bad photos. The lines.

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

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  • Luke

    I beg to differ. The BMV isn’t the douche, but Rep. Jeff Thompson is. The BMV at least conceded to have the plate. Thompson is the ass that made it stop (BMV must adhere to state law even if as a person or a group it disagrees).

  • Christopher

    Is there any fact checking at this website? Again, Queerty has the basic facts of a story wrong. The BMV didn’t put the “kibosh” on anything. They were distributing the plates, and a republican legislator introduced a bill to prevent them from continuing to do so. I what way does that make the BMV the douche of the week, when they have nothing to do with it? I wait I just noticed that this was a Dan Avery article…which explains the complete lack of facts or verification.

    Come on guys, get a clue, Queerty has so many factual errors it’s beginning to look silly.

    For correct information

    And the plates are still for sale on the BMV website…but this information took almost two minutes to locate and verify.

  • Daez

    @Luke: Which might also become the backdoor out of the contract. You can not enforce a contract if the deals of that contract are illegal. If it is illegal for the BMV to make the plates then any contract that requires them to do so would become null and void by state law.

  • CBRad

    @Christopher: They don’t have to check. Queerty’s only goal is to get you to click on the story ($$).

  • the other Greg

    Who hates the DMV? It’s a nice excuse for a day off from work. Actually it only takes an hour & a half, then I’m free for the rest of the day (not that they need to know that).

    Similar with jury duty – as soon as they figure out you’re gay they send you home because they hardly ever want gay people on juries.

  • Jperon

    Who needs the DMV? Get rid of them entirely. In New Zealand licensing is handled by the Automobile Association. Their offices are open seven days a week because they are customer based. I got licensed there on a Sunday morning. I walked right in, stood behind one person, was given my test. Sat down and finished the test and handed it right in. They checked it on the spot, took my photo immediately and the license was delivered to me on Tuesday. Total time was about 20 minutes. As for license plates for cars, anyone of the post offices handles that. You can mail in the fees or hand them in, you don’t have to actually go in. The post office I used was one of the private franchises, some of which are open 7 days a week as well since they are private businesses. The PO there is run as a business and even has sales on the cost of stamps, where normal stamps are sold at discounts the way stores lower the price of merchandise. I would stock up when they held their sale.

  • Constitution Man

    @Daez: You can not enforce a contract if the deals of that contract are illegal. If it is illegal for the BMV to make the plates then any contract that requires them to do so would become null and void by state law.

    And I direct you to this passage in the Constitution of the United States of America:

    No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.

    An “ex post facto law” is a law passed after something occurs that attempts to retroactively make it illegal (as this bill would do with the pre-existing contract). The reason why they’re trying to target “fewer than 1,000 sold” is to mount a defense against an ex-post-facto law charge in a lawsuit, by decoupling their obvious attack on the constitutional rights of the organization that contracted with the state that they disapprove of.

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