At midnight on Friday, March 12, Indiana lawmakers wrapped up their 2012 legislative session. While a number of pressing items might have made headlines during the session's final days, in the end it felt to many observers like the highest priority facing some members of the General Assembly was revoking a hard earned, specialty license plate that demonstrates support for LGBT youth. It seemed their greatest challenge was how to eliminate the plate - the sales of which benefit the Indiana Youth Group - without appearing as though they were discriminating against this one group in particular. But they were. Local media coverage was largely framed accordingly, and GLAAD applauds those journalists who reported this story accurately. We also appreciate the work of Indiana native Bil Browning at The Bilerico Project for his role in helping to elevate this story through the LGBT blogosphere.
At the present time, the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) oversees the application process for specialty license plates. With more than 100 speciality license plates currently being offered in Indiana, some lawmakers claimed they were more concerned with the proliferation of plates and that the Indiana Youth Group (IYG) was not the overriding issue. One lawmaker indicated that state police "hate these things" [the license plates], while another even went so far as to suggest that with the number of speciality license plates available, the KKK would be able to apply and receive a plate. Excuse after excuse was given as to why the application process for speciality license plates should once again fall under the discretion of the General Assembly, but on the last day of the 2012 session, it was only IYG that some lawmakers were still after - just as the local media had been reporting all along.
In the end, the Indiana legislature did not vote on any bills or amendments last Friday that would immediately revoke IYG's speciality license plate. While the group's hard-earned license plate and it's accompanying financial support are safe for now (IYG receives $25 from every $40 plate sale), a special summer committee will meet to "discuss" speciality license plates later this year...so the issue is far from over.
GLAAD has been working closely with IYG since January, and we will continue to offer our support to the organization whenever it's needed. Again, we applaud the local media in Indiana for getting this story right.