Target: Vicki Lambert, Head of the Motor Vehicle Division of Georgia’s Department of Revenue
Goal: Revise Georgia’s list of banned vanity license plate tags to ensure that it is nondiscriminatory and protects residents’ right to free speech.
Recently, the application for vanity license plates of a resident of Atlanta, Georgia was denied because his requested tags were on the list of plates banned by the state. The resident, James Cyrus Gilbert, had requested ’4GAYLIB,’ ‘GAYPWR,’ and ‘GAYGUY,’ all of which were denied. Georgia’s Department of Revenue has violated Gilbert’s right to free speech by denying his harmless tag requests, a denial that clearly stems from discrimination based on the fact that the word ‘gay’ is included in the tag.
As Gilbert explained to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, “It’s not like I was asking for something that was vulgar or over the top. Denying someone the right to put gay on their tag, that’s political. If I want I could get a tag that said straight man, but because it had gay on it, it’s not available.” Indeed, Georgia residents are able to demonstrate their more conservative views on the plates, including the approved tags ‘GUNLUV,’ ‘JESUS4U,’ and ‘GOD4EVR.’ In addition, Georgia drivers can obtain plates that indicate they are ‘Sons of Confederate Veterans,’ as well as a ‘Choose Life’ plate that funds anti-choice organizations.
Georgia residents who are members of the LGBTQ community and supporters of gay rights should be able to demonstrate their views in the same way Christian or gun-supporting residents can. Tell the Georgia Department of Revenue to grant Gilbert the ability to show his gay rights support and to revise their list of banned tags.
Dear Ms. Lambert,
Your department’s recent denial of James Cyrus Gilbert’s requested license plates tags is arbitrary and discriminatory. Mr. Gilbert had asked for the tags ’4GAYLIB,’ ‘GAYPWR,’ and ‘GAYGUY,’ all of which are positive demonstrations of his pride as a gay man and supporter of equal rights. Georgia’s Department of Revenue has violated Gilbert’s right to free speech by denying his harmless tag requests.
Mr. Gilbert’s requested tags are in no way offensive or unreasonable. The fact that the department has approved other tags that clearly represent more traditionally conservative and religious views is, however, objectionable. For example, residents are able to demonstrate their support for gun rights and Christianity through the approved tags ‘GUNLUV,’ ‘JESUS4U,’ and ‘GOD4EVR.’ In addition, Georgia drivers can obtain plates that indicate they are ‘Sons of Confederate Veterans,’ as well as a ‘Choose Life’ plate that funds anti-choice organizations. In comparison to these approved tags, the department’s denial of ‘gay pride’ plates is clearly discriminatory.
Your department’s spokesperson has explained that the inconsistencies in the plate approval process stems from the fact that many employees with different views make decisions about what should or should not appear on the plates. This is unacceptable and has obviously led to biased decision-making resulting in discrimination against the gay community and their allies. We ask that you revise the approval process and the list of banned tags to reflect a more nondiscriminatory policy that guarantees residents the ability to freely represent their identities and political views in a positive manner.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: quinn.anya via Flickr