Despite the fact that a recent judge’s ruling determined that the state improperly revoked IYG’s specialty license plate, the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles is asking for ‘clarity’ on the issue, before resuming sales of the specialty plate that both benefits the Indiana Youth Group and earns the State additional tax revenue.
I’ve written about this issue before: homophobes in Indiana’s State Legislature have attacked the IYG plates using a two-pronged approach: 1) through state legislation designed to re-write the specialty plate program to exclude the gay youth advocacy organization, and 2) directly by ordering the BMV to stop issuing plates. The BMV complied with the order from legislators by finding a technicality in their own unclear instructions for distributing plates and claiming that IYG violated that rule. Unfortunately other non-profit organizations were caught in the State Legislature’s homophobic cross-fire and had their plates revoked due to the same technicality. Fortunately saner heads in the judicial system prevailed and the BMV were ordered to recind their block on the specialty plates.
It’s fascinating(ly ironic) that the BMV is asking for ‘clarity” given that they have been trying to obscure application information and obstruct IYG’s application for a specialty plate since they first applied for plates in 2009. After being turned down for unclear reasons TWICE, IYG finally sued to get the rules to be made clear for applications with the help of the ACLU in 2010.
After they successfully got a clear understanding of the rules and proved that they met them, they were issued plates – only to have the Indiana State Legislature locate a technicality to get their plates revoked, again through unclear language in the rules about distributing plates.
Where do thing stand now? It’s unclear:
“This does not shut the door at all on IYG getting their plates back,” BMV spokesman Josh Gillespie said. “We’re just looking at some further clarity on some issues that we felt were a little ambiguous.”
Nice that the BMV wants clarity. (Now) To bad they weren’t helpful with that over that for the last 4+ years of this process. But when your homophobic agenda depends on being unclear, it’s not surprising. Presumably those of us who purchased and were issued IYG plates can continue to renew them, but they aren’t resuming new sales right now, until they have clarity.
What could happen in the future:
Even given this judicial ruling, and if the “clarity” happens through the judicial system, the homophobes from the Indiana State Legislature have left themselves a back-door way to eliminate the plate in the future in the form of legislation they passed in the 2013 legislative season.
The Indiana state legislature passed House Bill 1279 in 2013 which states (in digest):
Special group, disabled Hoosier veteran, and National Guard license plates. Creates the special group recognition license plate committee consisting of eight members of the general assembly, and specifies that the primary purpose of the committee is to make recommendations to the bureau of motor vehicles (bureau) regarding special group recognition license plates (plate). Specifies the criteria to be met by a special group for the issuance of a plate. Specifies procedures for continued participation in the special group recognition license plate program by a special group, including sales and renewal requirements. Provides that a person who is an active member of the Army or Air National Guard may apply for and receive one or more National Guard license plates. (Current law requires that the person must be an active member of the Indiana Army or Air National Guard.) Requires the bureau to design a National Guard license plate. Removes the restriction that not more than two disabled Hoosier veteran license plates may be issued to one person. Makes conforming amendments.
Emphasis is mine, and yeah, that language I highlighted is pretty telling – they’ve set up a committee for rubber-stamping specialty group plates, and some criteria that they can manipulate in the future to exclude IYG and potentially other groups they don’t agree with. So even if the judge ‘clarifies’ the rules, the Indiana State Legislature can change the rules in the future on a whim.
Here is hoping that the homophobes will be too embarrassed by their bigoted, bullying behavior targeting teenagers to continue down this path in the future.