James Cyrus Gilbert, a gay man from Atlanta, Ga., has filed a lawsuit against the Georgia Department of Driver Services, Autos.aol.com reported on Jan. 25. Gilbert says that his right to free speech was violated when the department rejected three vanity license plate applications.
James Cyrus Gilbert submitted an application requesting either of three vanity plates “4GAYLIB,” “GAYPWR,” and “GAYGUY.”
Those vanity tags are on a list of thousands banned by the state of Georgia, most of which are vulgar and/or hateful or may express a religious, philosophical or political view. Gilbert and his Cynthia Counts argue that his rejected license plate requests met none of those criteria.
James says, “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.”
The state’s position on suitable vanity plates seems to be ambiguous, as it has allowed plates like “JESUS4U” in the past. “Beer” is not allowed, but “Sixpak” is acceptable. “Racoon” and “Capon” are not permitted, but “Cheetah” is permissible. “Iceman” would be rejected, but “Savage” would be approved.
In a statement issued by the Ga. Dept. of Driver Services regarding the rules and regulations of vanity plate requests said:
“The Commissioner or his/her designee shall review all applications for special prestige license plates to determine the propriety of the content requested.”
James Cyrus Gilbert’s attorney Cynthia Counts argues that the state is favoring one view over another. The lawsuit wants the state to approve one of his vanity plate requests that include the word gay. The gay license plate lawsuit also asks for a court order declaring the state regulation that governs vanity plates unconstitutional.
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