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North Carolina updates license plate rules & the roads just got a whole lot gayer

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In North Carolina, there’s a new DMV Commissioner in town, and he’s dusting off the state’s Do Not Issue list for vanity license plates.

“Anything on the Do Not Issue list should not include the LGBT community,” says Wayne Goodwin, a former North Carolina State House representative and North Carolina Democratic Party chair.

“I don’t know how long the terms that relate to the LGBT community were on that list,” Goodwin told NPR affiliate WFFD, “but with my administration, they are coming off.” 

And coming out.

Look for SOOOGAY, LZBNJEEP and L8RBEAR soon on a daily driver near you.

The full list of banned plates is a middle school boys’ paradise, featuring giggle-inducing words and phrases from WANG and VOMIT to DATASS and DEEZNUTS.

There are also darker mashups, including variations on the N-word, nods to white supremacy, and antisemitic language.

Upon taking office in 2022, Goodwin launched a formal review of the list for the first time in its two-decade history. 

“Not knowing how long that list has been around, but realizing there have been great strides on the matter of equality, I believed that we needed to address and update, to the extent appropriate, what appeared on that list,” Goodwin said in an interview with the Charlotte Observer. “That’s when I realized that the list is as vast as it is.”

The list of banned words and phrases contains over 10,000 entries.

The Do Not Issue collection was reviewed by a group of employees at the department’s vehicle services division and then made its way to the Department of Transportation’s Office of Civil Rights. 239 terms came off, including 27 referencing the LGBTQ+ community.



“We are happy to see that the DMV listened to the public and reevaluated restrictions on LGBTQ+ phrases,” Equality North Carolina’s executive director, Kendra Johnson, wrote in a statement, adding she hopes to see inclusion “extend fully to this area.”

Still subject to the Do Not Issue ban: BISEXUAL and GAYLIB, among others.

At the beginning of 2023, there were 322,163 vanity license plates in circulation in North Carolina, or about 3% of all plated vehicles on the state’s road.

Commissioner Goodwin was inspired to review the list in part by the antics of one North Carolinian who had protested the recall of her vanity plate spelling out FART. That driver went to great lengths to save her plate, establishing an official club to justify what she called an acronym: “Friends of Asheville Recreational Trails.”

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