CHICAGO
03/20/2012 01:30 pm ET Updated Mar 20, 2012

Indiana Gay License Plates Dumped, BMV Employee Fired After State Senators Take Action

Indiana's first-in-the-nation LGBT youth-supportive speciality license plates have been revoked by the state's Bureau of Motor Vehicles, which also reportedly moved to fire its spokesman over the issue.

Graig Lubsen, spokesman for the state Bureau of Motor Vehicles, this month told the Indy Star that a state senator had been pushing for the Indiana Youth Group-sponsored plates' elimination. Though the senator opposed to the plates claimed the issue was linked to organizations giving them out in exchange for donations, supporters of the youth group say they were specifically targeted due to the pro-LGBT nature of the plates.

Republican lawmakers in the state legislature previously targeted the license plates in the final days of its legislative session, the Indy Star reports. When that effort failed, lawmakers opposed to the plates tried out a different tactic.

The state BMV moved late last week to suspend the pro-LGBT plates after a group of 20 state senators argued that the group was selling the plates to its supporters, Indiana Public Media reports. Two other groups, the Greenways Foundation and Indiana 4-H Foundation, lost their specialty plate privileges on similar grounds.

Indiana Youth Group executive director Mary Byrne told the Associate Press, however, that the plates are offered as "thank you gifts" in exchange for donations, a practice Lubsen said was common. As other groups have been allowed to do the same thing without facing any problems, she believes her group was "targeted."

"The senators do not want IYG to have this plate," Byrne told the AP. "Even though two other organizations are losing their plate also, those two other organizations would not lose their plates if it were not for IYG."

Lawmakers who signed the letter that led to the plates' revocation maintained that their only motivation in doing so was that the group violated the state contract by selling the plates.

“Had they not been in clear violation, this would not have happened," state Sen. Patricia Miller of Indianapolis told the AP.

The IYG plans to challenge the BMV's ruling.

CONVERSATIONS