An Atlanta resident has filed a lawsuit against the Georgia Department of Driver Services, saying his right to free speech was violated when the department rejected three vanity license plate applications.
James Cyrus Gilbert, who is gay, applied for the tags "4GAYLIB," "GAYPWR," and "GAYGUY." He says the department was discriminatory in its denial, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
The tags were evidently on a list of thousands banned by the state, most of which are vulgar and/or hateful or express a religious, philosophical or political view.
Gilbert and his attorneys are arguing that his rejected tags met none of those criteria.
"It's not like I was asking for something that was vulgar or over the top," Gilbert told the AJC. "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 stance on suitable vanity plates has been ambiguous, the AJC found. It has allowed plates like "JESUS4U" in the past. The free speech attorneys are arguing that the state is favoring one view over another.
The lawsuit looks to have the state approve Gilbert's vanity plate. It also asks for a court order declaring the state regulation that governs vanity plates unconstitutional.
Other states employ similar regulations when it comes to vanity plates and Gilbert is far from the first person to have a seemingly tame request denied. In 2009, a Colorado woman, who was a vegan, requested the plate "ILVTOFU," but was rejected on the grounds that it could be misinterpreted, according to MSNBC and the Associated Press.