Atlanta hair stylist Cyrus Gilbert will soon show his GAYPWR on the license plate of his Honda CRV. It only took a federal lawsuit and some hurried policy changes by state officials to make it happen. GOGIRL!
Gilbert (photo) and his attorneys inked their settlement with the Georgia Department of Driver Services on Wednesday, six months after alleging that the agency rejected his requests for 4GAYLIB, GAYPWR and GAYGUY on his tag. The lawsuit said the rejections stifled his political and social speech and “reflects viewpoint discrimination. It also asked for regulations concerning vanity plates to be dumped.
The state settled, Gilbert received an unspecified amount of cash and the state is rushing through clarifications to its vanity plate regs. Gilbert tells the GA Voice he's ready for his plate.
“I found out about the emergency ruling this morning. I mean, it's about the tag, but at the same time it's not about the tag,” he said. “At the end of the day I want what's right and it wasn't right for them to say I was not allowed to get this tag.”
The lawsuit — filed by Cynthia Count, who has advised gay media outlets, and Gerry Weber, one of the attorneys who sued the City of Atlanta over the botched Eagle raid — showed that the state's list of banned vanity tags include 90 gay ones. GAYGUY to GAYBOI, MSGAY, LEZI, AQUEER and BISEX — all not allowed.
But the state's “emergency” ruling in the wake of settling the lawsuit doesn't necessarily clear up the confusion over just how much gay you can squeeze into a 7-letter vanity plate.
The rule will not become final until after July 9. In the interim the agency will take public comment on it.
Wednesday, state officials would not address specific examples of words that would pass or fail under the new rule, but it seems clear that some tags now on the roads would not be approved under the new framework.
For example, tags with references to guns fell into a gray area before. Now weapons can’t be mentioned.
But here's some additional guidance.
Among the letter/number combinations prohibited by the state’s news rule on “special prestige license plates” are:
• References to “sex, sexual acts or body parts … excrement or … bodily fluids”;
• Slurs on “a religious belief or being, race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation”;
• Items subject to trademark or copyright;
• References to “a crime or criminal activity under state or federal law;
• Terms that “might reasonably result in an immediate breach of the peace”;
• The word “hate” and all its variants, such as “h8” or “haytr”;
References to “weapons, drugs or alcohol.”