‘IM GAY’ Ruled a License Plate No-No, So Oklahoma Student Sues

February 17th, 2010 by

www.wsj.com — The Oklahoma Tax Commission, the organization that reviews and approves applications for personalized license plates in the Sooner State, has reportedly allowed the following to appear on the state’s plates: STR8FAN and STR8SXI.

But the Tax Commission has denied a college student’s request to put IM GAY on his license plate. The student, Keith Kimmel, 28, of Norman, has sued, arguing that the decision violates his First Amendment rights. Click here for the story, from the Oklahoman.

The backstory: The Oklahoma Tax Commission turned Kimmel down due to an internal rule against special license tags that “may be offensive to the general public.”

Kimmel (pictured) didn’t like it, pointing out that the authorities allowed other messages that were, if not offensive, were arguably provocative. “They defended using ‘straight sexy.’ … They didn’t think that one was inappropriate but yet ‘I’m gay’ is. I think it’s kind of a double standard,” said Kimmel, a student at Oklahoma City Community College.

In his lawsuit, filed Wednesday, Kimmel asks Oklahoma County District Judge Noma Gurich to order tax officials to grant his application for the IM GAY tag. His attorney contends the Tax Commission’s rule violates the Oklahoma Constitution’s guarantee of free speech.

The attorney, Brittany Novotny, calls it “viewpoint discrimination.”

On Friday, tax officials Friday declined comment until after they could review the lawsuit. But during an administrative hearing last year, reports the Oklahoman, a Tax Commission attorney argued: “License plates — even personalized license plates — are not the private billboard for the person to whom they are issued. They are still a state license plate.”

Leave a Comment

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment. You are free to voice your opinion but please keep it clean. Any comments using profanity will be rejected.