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Indiana LGBT youth group specialty license plate revoked

Friday, March 16, 2012
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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles on Friday confirmed that the agency has revoked permission and sale of specialty license plates that benefit the Indiana Youth Group, an LGBT youth advocacy organization

A spokesperson for the bureau also noted that two other Indiana non-profits, the Greenways Foundation and the Indiana 4-H Foundation, also had permission to sell their specialty plates rescinded, and said that all three organizations broke their contracts with the state by offering low-digit plates in exchange for contributions from donors.

The Indiana Youth Group (IYG) came under intense criticism from the state’s Republican lawmakers, who were angered that the LGBT group had won a specialty plate.

Republican efforts, led by Senate President Pro Tempore David Long (R-Fort Wayne), attempted to pass legislation during the last days of this year’s legislative session that would have revoked the youth group’s plate, as well as minimizing what lawmakers saw as unnecessary proliferation of specialty plates in general.

After those attempts failed, Long and other Senators sought to revoke the plates by voiding the Indiana Youth Group contract.

Mary Byrne, executive director of the Indiana Youth Group, said the BMV notified her of the decision Friday, telling her that 20 state senators had sent a letter challenging their plate and that it was being removed from sale, reported the Indianapolis Star.

Byrne said her group was given no chance to appeal, and no opportunity to state their case; she said she did not yet know what avenues the IYG might pursue, and although she did not currently have an attorney, at least two have called offering to assist.

Byrne said they offered low-digit plates as thank you gifts because they IYG saw other organizations, including universities, were doing the same.

The IYG only obtained their plate this year — Indiana’s American Civil Liberties Union had sued the Bureau of Motor Vehicles in September 2010 after the organization’s request for the plate was twice denied, despite meeting the state’s criteria.

The group accused the BMV of lacking clear standards to evaluate plates and violating the First Amendment by using unilateral discretion in ruling on applications.

After the lawsuit was dismissed in January 2011, the IYG applied for the specialty plate a third time, which was approved in December.

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