The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles commissioner today backed off its denial of a woman's request for a personalized license plate reading "BE GODS."
The decision resulted from a lawsuit filed this week by Liz Ferris, who had that same plate on her car for eight or nine years but forgot to renew it on time for 2008. When she submitted a new personalized plate application, the BMV denied her request because of a recent policy change banning any references to religion or a deity on new personalized plates.
That policy took effect in November 2007, just after the renewal deadline passed for Ferris. Commissioner Ron Stiver said in a statement released today that the BMV would give Ferris a new plate bearing her old message — which she intended to mean "Be God's" or "belong to God."
"After reviewing Ms. Ferris' request," Stiver said, "it is clear that she attempted to reserve her PLP prior to November 6. As such, I have over-ruled the existing determination and directed that Ms. Ferris receive her initially requested PLP."
the story of this lawsuit (and the bmv's hypocrisy regarding this issue) spread rapidly through state media, so i'm not surprised that stiver leapt at the opportunity to change the story. but his statement shows he doesn't get it.
But Stiver's statement defended the policy, saying Ferris would get a pass under a grandfather rule that allows renewals of existing plates even if they run afoul of the policy change.
"Simply stated, if the BMV approves such pro-deity plates as 'GOD CAN,' the agency has no grounds to reject such plates as 'GOD CANT,' 'GODLESS,' or other more extreme anti-deity plates that have been requested and that most Hoosiers would find offensive," Stiver said.
never mind his assertion that "most hoosiers" would find such plates "offensive". the true irony here is that this is the exact argument that i and many others have been making about the "in god we trust" plates: allowing millions of hoosiers to place a pro-god message on their license plates (at no extra cost, even), while simultaneously forbidding any opposing messages, amounts to an unconstitutional government endorsement of religion. ¶