An Atlanta man is suing the Georgia Department of Driver Services over a personalized license plate. The words he wanted to have on the plate reference his sexual orientation.
Cyrus Gilbert feels his rights were violated by the state when his request for a personalized license plate was denied. Thousands of prestige plates are on cars all over the state.
"You drive down the road and you see the whole Mrs. so and so or Mr. so and so or someone's favorite team of some sort and I thought, 'that's kind of cool,'" Gilbert said.
Gilbert applied for a personalized plate for his car. As an openly gay man, he wanted a plate that would represent him. He tried 4GAYLIB, then GAYPWR and GAYGUY.
"In some small way I feel it would be something for me to be kind of proud of who I am and be a supporter of gay rights, gay and lesbian rights and the community that I live in," Gilbert said.
All three requests were denied.
"The ones that I applied for happened to be on the banned tag list," Gilbert said.
Gilbert feels his rights were violated.
"It's my choice to say I'm a gay man. No one's saying it to me, no one's saying it for me. It's my choice to say that," Gilbert said.
Gilbert hired attorney Cynthia Counts and sued the state.
"It's a forum for speech and the government provides it. They can't restrict speech unless there's a compelling state interest, certainly a legitimate state interest, and here I see no interest at all," Counts said.
Gilbert would like to see the state change their position and allow him to have the vanity plate.
"You know, I'm a reasonable person. Just to have it on a list and say it's bad is not acceptable," Gilbert said.
The Dept. of Revenue and the Attorney General's office had no comment because of pending litigation.
However, The Department of Driver Services released the following statement Wednesday:
"The Department of Driver Services (DDS) plays no role in the issuance of prestige license plates. Since July 1, 2005, jurisdiction over motor vehicle registration including the review of content proposed for prestige license plates has fallen within the purview of the Department of Revenue as a result of the implementation of House Bill 501."
Currently there are 10,217 banned plates in the state
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