Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

June 19, 2013

ACLU sues over Ind. gay youth plates


The Associated Press

Indianapolis —

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.

The lawsuit continues more than three years of judicial and legislative battles over the specialty plates. Conservative state lawmakers attempted to ban the organization's plates in 2012 without success. A group of state senators later wrote to the BMV alleging the youth group violated its contract by auctioning low-number plates to supporters.

The BMV suspended the group's participation in the new program in March 2012 and the two have fought through an administrative review battle since then.