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ACLU sues BMV over gay youth group case

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The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday against the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles, seeking the reinstatement of specialty auto license plates for a group that counsels gay and lesbian youth.

The ACLU claims BMV Commissioner Scott Waddell violated due process by asserting himself as the final authority in an independent review that approved specialty plates for the Indiana Youth Group, according to a copy of the suit obtained by The Associated Press.

Administrative Law Judge Melissa Reynolds issued a ruling in May that directed the BMV to reinstate the plates, but Waddell stepped in last week, continuing the suspension while getting more answers on whether the Indiana Youth Group violated its contract with the state.

"The actions of the Commissioner of the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles, in acting as the appellate and final authority over a decision that he, in effect, issued, violates the right to have an impartial decision maker in administrative adjudications and therefore violates due process," the ACLU wrote in its filing.

Waddell late Monday ordered Reynolds to re-open the case and assess whether the Indiana Youth Group had been "selling" or "auctioning" low-number license plates. Reynolds ruled last month that the group had violated Indiana law and its state contract by receiving payments in exchange for low-numbered license plates, but found the actions didn't constitute an auction or warrant the revocation of the plate. She also said the BMV failed to give 30 days' notice before suspending the plates as required.

She recommended the group's plates be reinstated, a move the youth group had hoped would occur by late this month.

Reynolds' findings weren't binding, however; the administrative law judge for the BMV reports to the commissioner.

Waddell noted in his order seeking the review that he is the "ultimate authority" by law. He said the plates will remain suspended until he makes a final determination.

"Until a final order is issued by me, as the ultimate authority for the BMV, (IYG's) participation in the specialty group recognition program shall remain suspended," Waddell wrote.

The state and the IYG have battled over the plate since it was approved in 2011. Some conservative lawmakers have argued the youth group was promoting underage sex. The group serves gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered youths.

The BMV suspended the plates at the request of 20 Republican state senators last year, saying the group was selling its allotment of low-numbered plates for more than the amount allowed under their contracts. The Greenways Foundation and The 4-H Foundation, both accused of the same action, also lost their plates.

Mary Byrne, executive director of the Indiana Youth Group, said Tuesday she thought the battle was over when Reynolds issued her ruling last month.

"It just feels vindictive," Byrne said. "They made their point to everybody who's got a specialty license plate: 'You cannot use these low-number license plates as thank-you gifts.'"

BMV spokesman Josh Gillespie said the "order of remand" was not an appeal of the judge's ruling, but instead a request for clarification from Reynolds.

"The remand is so we can make the answer we have is complete, we felt like there was some ambiguity," he said.

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  • can't wait
    I'm getting an IYG plate as soon as they become available again. I feel like I should have had one before, just to be a good liberal, but failed. Soon...
  • hmmm
    I am going to sue the state because they don't have a sexually active heterosexual license plate
  • "Business" Includes a Lot of Things
    ...But most of the jobs we're creating are crap: Warehouse jobs. Perma-temp industrial work, etc. To bring in the jobs that will help the employees build wealth (and thus grow our state's economy rather than simply create more "working poor" jobs that drain our Medicaid and other safety net programs) you need to attract companies whose employees tend to not be backwards regressive idiots. We want more companies like Eli Lilly and fewer like Amazon warehouse...
  • TOP 5
    FYI, Indiana was recenlty voted 5th best state in the U.S. and #1 in the Midwest for businesses.
    • This is Why We're "The South of the North"
      Indiana is a laughingstock in this country for our backwards, homophobic, and outright racist state laws, policies, and attitudes. Honestly: How in the world is the Mayor supposed to attract high-paying/high-education jobs to our state to build our economy when this sort of nonsense is what comes up when you google Indiana news? You idiots have set this state back twenty years: Every decision maker in every company that might be worth attracting to our state knows somebody who is gay in their family, has a critical employee who is gay, or may be gay themselves: Do you think they're going to bring the benefit of their enterprise to this redneck state when the community will, seemingly, greet them with pitchforks and torches and cries of "Homo Go Home!"
      • Good Grief
        Reinstate their plate already. The IYG serves children that are already being bullied in the classroom. This is just vindictive and spiteful. Looks to me like it is nothing more than a mean-spirited ploy against the LGBT community. If a person had any exposure to this community you would never see this type of behaviour. Not many things as useless as homo-phobia.
      • Boy Scouts
        Boy Scout troops are only leaving BSA org and forming new like organizations. This is not about gays but becoming a proponent of homosexuals. Their is a big difference.
      • Oh, Really?
        Dear "Ms. Flame-On..." At exactly what point did you decide to be straight? At exactly what point do you think LGBT individuals decide to choose, as you think, their "lifestyle?" There is no choice, Ms. Flame-On, other than being stupid and insulting, for which you qualify hands-down.
      • RE: What exactly are "gay youth"
        Do you really think that IYG is a predator group trying to make kids gay? IYG is a group for kids to have a safe place to go. When churches are dumping the Boy Scouts because they now well allow gay members it is becoming increasingly obvious that we need more places like IYG. If you want the freedom to deny gay youth to belong to your church or youth group you also need to give organizations that are going to support your castaways the right to exist and realize they are there to support youth and are not some sort of predators. Please do some research on IYG and find out what a wonderful organization it truley is.

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