An openly gay man has just won a unique legal battle that revolves around him using an LGBTQ term on his license plate.
U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar ruled in a case filed in March against Department of Motor Vehicles Director Steve Gordon on behalf of said man and four other Californians who were denied permission to put their messages on personalized license plates.
Queer Folks Records owner Amrit Kohli (pictured above) wanted to use the word “QUEER” but was refused because the DMV said that it might be considered insulting.
Other interesting examples had similar responses. A fan of the band Slayer was notified that using “SLAAYRR” could be seen as “threatening, aggressive or hostile”.
An Army veteran who wanted to note his nickname and love of wolves with “OGWOOLF” was refused because the DMV said the OG might be construed as a reference to “original gangster.” So we’re guessing that former Real Housewives of Orange County star Vicki Gunvalson won’t be trying to use “OGOFTHEOC” on any of her automobiles in the future.
Judge Tigar struck down a DMV standard that said vanity license plate configurations can’t carry “connotations offensive to good taste and dignity.” He also said that personalized messages like “QUEER” were types of personal expression and not “government speech” therefore regulations governing them “must be both viewpoint-neutral and reasonable.”
There is a fine line here however according to Tigar. He also mentioned that the DMV probably can ban license plates that are considered to be obscene, profane or contain hate speech due to them falling outside the First Amendment protections.
“This is a great day for our clients and the 250,000 Californians that seek to express their messages on personalized license plates each year,” attorney Wen Fa of the Pacific Legal Foundation, who initially filed the lawsuit, said in a statement. “Vague bans on offensive speech allow bureaucrats to inject their subjective preferences and undermine the rule of law.”