INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Indiana has become the first state in the nation to offer specialty automobile license plates promoting awareness of gay youth groups.
The new plates will be available beginning in February, and feature the logo of the Indiana Youth Group, an Indianapolis-based group that supports children in the LGBT community. The group’s volunteers travel throughout the state providing support for often-troubled adolescents.
Indiana’s American Civil Liberties Union had sued the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles in September 2010 after the organization’s request for the plate was twice denied.
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.
The Indiana Youth Group said after the lawsuit was dismissed in January 2011 that they would apply for the new plate a third time, which was approved last month by the state’s Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
Micah Clark, Executive Director of the American Family Association of Indiana, reacted to the news, telling a christian website Tuesday:
“You have to question what the BMV was thinking when they approved a license plate for a group which recruits teens into the homosexual lifestyle. Since health risks do not seem to matter, what is to prevent a cigar club from now getting a license plate from the BMV?
“State agencies should be neutral in the politically charged culture war especially the promotion of homosexuality among minors.
“It is very disappointing that Indiana is the first state in the nation to have a license plate celebrating youth involved in homosexual behaviors,” said Clark.
Bil Browning, founder of the Bilerico Project, and a longtime Indiana LGBT rights activist, told LGBTQ Nation Tuesday that he was “not surprised to see that Micah Clark is up to his old tricks.”
“Mr. Clark espouses his far-right views on LGBT rights all across Indiana, but his organization seems to do little else,” Browning said. “Indiana Youth Group, on the other hand, spends its time helping suicidal youth and college planning.”
Browning noted that while Clark calls for the state to remain “neutral in the politically charged culture war,” he has previously advocated for the “In God We Trust” license plate.
The specialty plate costs an additional $40 with $25 directly benefiting the group which provides training for schools and service agencies and works to promote tolerance.