GREENVILLE, N.C. — The North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles denied a lesbian’s custom license plate request before finally relenting and approving it Wednesday. The action is the latest in the state department’s longstanding practice of denying a wide range of LGBTQ-themed custom messages.
Greenville resident Amy Bright had requested a plate to read LSBNSNLV, standing for “lesbians in love,” to honor her wife of eight years. The DMV rejected it, despite having previously issued Bright a plate that read OUTLSBN, or “out lesbian.”
Bright appealed the decision.
A spokesperson for the DMV has cited a state law saying “the Division may refuse to issue a plate with a letter combination that is offensive to good taste and decency.”
On Wednesday, the DMV relented and approved Bright’s custom plate.
DMV Commissioner Torre Jessup today approved the application for the "LSBNSNLV" license plate, saying it was a mistake to have rejected it in the first place. He left a voice message for Ms. Bright to apologize for the situation and to let her know about the approval.— NCDOT (@NCDOT) July 18, 2018
It’s not the first time the state DMV has denied an LGBTQ-themed license plate message.
In 2014, a list of 6,000 recently rejected license plate requests was released to Raleigh station WRAL. At the time, qnotes received the same list and was surprised to see a handful of seemingly inoffensive references to LGBTQ people. Among the total list of gay-themed messages, several were slurs or sexual in nature, but others were harmless messages like “LESBIAN,” “GAY,” 4GAYLIB,” standing for “for gay liberation,” among others, including “GAYBOY,” GAYGAL” and “GABOY,” either another reference to “gay boy” or perhaps “Georgia boy.”
At the time, a spokesperson for the state DMV declined to directly answer qnotes‘ inquiries on whether the state department had a specific policy banning inoffensive LGBTQ-themed messages.
Here are mock-ups of the several LGBTQ-themed plates rejected by the DMV in 2014, as we ran them in our original story four years ago.