US: Georgia allows ‘GAYPWR’ number plate in discrimination case settlement
A gay man in the US state of Georgia, has been granted a personalised number plate containing the word ‘gay’, following a settlement by the state, after he sued for discrimination.
James Cyrus Gilbert filed a lawsuit which contended that the state violated his consitutional rights by rejecting his application for personalised number plates reading “4GAYLIB”, “GAYPWR”, and “GAYGUY”.
The three tag lines appeared on the state’s website listing banned number plates, despite that some plates expressing political or religious expressions have been allowed.
The settlement by the state allowed Mr Gilbert to choose any of the three number plates, his attorney Cynthia Counts said on Thursday. The state has also agreed to pay $24,000 (£15.000) for his legal fees.
“He got the regulation changed, at least on the use of the word ‘gay,’” said Ms Counts. “That to him is a victory. It was a good decision by the state to resolve that lawsuit.”
The emergency regulation clarifies standards for personalised number plates in Georgia, will expire in 120 days, and the state will hold public hearings on whether to make the changes permanent, said Rick Gardner, supervisor of the Georgia Department of Revenue’s tax policy office.
According to the rules, number plates can mention sexual orientation, but those which disparage sexual orientation, religious belief, ethnicity, race or gender, are banned.
“Special prestige license plates will not be issued for letter/number combinations”, referring to sexual acts, body parts, bodily fluids, profanity, weapons, drugs, criminal activity or alcohol. The words “hate” and “suck” are banned.
Approved licence plates in the past included “HATERS”, but denied “HATERS1″. They approved “BLKBERI”, “BLKCHRY” and “BLCBUTI”, but denied “BLKACE”.
When the lawsuit was filed, officials said that employees attempted to be fair, but maintaining neutrality was not possible when the department had to make dozens of judgement calls a week.