CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Like state license plates agencies across the nation, North Carolina’s Department of Motor Vehicles receives requests for special, customized plates and must weed through them before approving the plates for use.
Earlier this month, Raleigh news station WRAL went through all 6,000 of the recently-rejected plate requests in the state, many rejected “mostly due to sex, drug and profanity references,” they said.
qnotes got the same list and we were surprised to see a handful of seemingly unoffensive, non-obscene references to gay or lesbian people among the rejected. Like WRAL, we’ve put together a gallery, below, of just a few of the rejected plates we thought maybe should have made it through.
To be sure, there were other gay-related rejects, too. Many of them were slurs or indeed sexually obscene. (We’ve included the full list of gay-themed plates we found, but do be mindful that some of the plates do contain slurs or obscenities. The list is included at the end of the article.)
Yet, we were left wondering why the state DMV would reject plates like “4GAYLIB,” extolling someone’s position in favor of gay liberation, or plates as simple as “GAY” or “LESBIAN.” Plates like “GABOY” could either be read as “gay boy” or “Georgia boy.” We were definitely confused about the rejection of “FAERIE.” The Radical Faeries are a decades-old LGBT organization. For a state that still passes out Sons of Confederate Veterans specialty tags, you’d think we could at least get custom lettering like “FAERIE.”
We reached out to DMV spokeswoman Marge Howell and asked, “Does the DMV have a specific policy as it relates to words which identify sexual orientation and/or the lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) community or pro-LGBT politics as exemplified in the non-offensive examples noted above?”
Howell’s reply: “The unauthorized text database for N.C. license plates has been compiled from thousands of words, phrases and acronyms that are accepted from a variety of sources nationally including other state vehicle registration agencies. NCDMV reviews requests for license plates on a case-by-case basis and allows for both plate owners and members of the public to have input into the process. NCDMV’s practices are governed by the requirements of N.C. General Statutes Chapter 20-79.4(179), which states: ‘Personalized. – Issuable to the registered owner of a motor vehicle. The plate will bear the letters and numbers requested by the owner. The Division may refuse to issue a plate with a letter combination that is offensive to good taste and decency. The Division may not issue a plate that duplicates another plate.'”
Full list of gay-themed plates rejected by the North Carolina DMV: