WASHINGTON, January 23 (RIA Novosti) - An Atlanta man has filed a lawsuit against the state of Georgia after his request to display his gay pride on a personalized license plate reading either: 4GAYLIB, GAYPWR or GAY GUY was rejected by the state’s Department of Driver Services.
“It’s not like I was asking for something that was vulgar or over the top,” James Cyrus Gilbert told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) about his suggestions for phrases to put on his personalized license plate.
“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,” he said.
All three of Gilbert’s ideas are on Georgia’s list of phrases that are banned by the state or on its “bad tag” list, according to the lawsuit that contends his free speech rights were violated by the state for refusing to allow him to display those messages on his vehicle.
"I am a gay man," Gilbert told Reuters on Wednesday. "I am a taxpayer. I pay my bills just like everyone else. If I want to have ‘GAYGUY' or 'GAYPOWER' on my license plate, I should be able to do that."
The Georgia Department of Driver Services has been inconsistent when issuing applications for vanity tags in the past, approving plates that contain political or religious expressions such as JESUS4U, the AJC reported.
The irregularity in issuing applications is the result of many people with different opinions making decisions on what is offensive, a Georgia government official told AJC.
"You could understand curse words," being banned from tags, Gilbert's attorney, Cynthia Counts told Reuters, "but there's just no rational reason for this."
The lawsuit contends that the state is favoring one political belief over another by allowing conservative religious beliefs such as JESUS4U to be allowed, but not Gilbert’s gay rights message.
The lawsuit is also asking that Georgia approve Gilbert’s application and that the state’s regulations governing vanity plates be ruled unconstitutional, according to AJC.
Other license plates that have been approved by Georgia include: BEERMAN and DRBIBLE, but not BEERUN or BIBLE, and it approved HATERS but not HATERS1.
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