(Photo: Courtesy of the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles)
The executive director of the American Family Association of Indiana isn't happy with the state's Bureau of Motor Vehicles, which recently began selling specialty license plates benefiting an organization that works with gay youth.
"I just think the state needs to be neutral in these types of things, and when you take half the funds to the plate ... and give them to a group that wants to promote homosexuality among teenagers in schools, that's ... highly controversial,” Micah Clark, executive director of the AFA of Indiana, told The Christian Post on Wednesday.
The license plate he is concerned with is one that helps Indiana Youth Group, an organization that focuses on supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth, according to the group's website.
For each plate that sells, $25 will go toward funding various IYG programs and support the creation of Gay-Straight Alliances in Indiana's high schools, the BMV's website says. Clark argues that the organization shouldn't be allowed to use the funds to promote a political position, or to influence young people who are in a major developmental stage in their lives.
"I don't think we should have specialty plates that are political or promote behaviors that are dangerous to minors,” he said. “I mean, there is no denial – even though a lot of people in the media don't want to report it – that homosexuality has emotional, physical health risks, spiritual risks, that are dramatically higher than heterosexuality.”
Graig Lubsen, communications director for the BMV in Indiana, told CP that the bureau had previously rejected IYG's application for the specialty plate on two different occasions.
The first time the organization was denied a plate because it failed to show its “statewide impact.” The BMV denied it a second time because IYG wanted to use the plate's proceeds to pay for employee salaries, but the bureau requires the funds to be used for an ongoing community project instead.
IYG filed a lawsuit against the BMV for not being clear about why they were denied, but later dropped the suit. The BMV offered the organization some help on its third application and, once it was properly filled out and submitted, their plate was granted.
IYG's new plate was announced in June 2011, and they went on sale on Dec. 28. As of Monday, 31 of the IYG specialty plates had been sold.
Clark says that other ideas for Indiana plates – like the “In God We Trust” plate – were initially denied too, but were eventually approved through the legislature rather than a lawsuit. He doesn't believe the legislature would have even listened to IYG's case because of how controversial it is.
He also believes that, during the lawsuit over the IYG plate, the BMV showed its weakness and that it would cave in to organizations when threatened with legal trouble. But Lubsen insists that the bureau is just being fair.
"This is just one of 104 different specialty plates that we offer. There was no special treatment that was given to them and no discrimination given to them,” Lubsen said.