James Cyrus Gilbert maintains in the lawsuit that state officials rejected his application for the tags 4GAYLIB, GAYPWR and GAYGUY.
All three vanity plates are on the list of vanity plates banned by the state, although the state has approved plates expressing some political or religious expressions, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Gilbert said he wasn’t asking for a plate that was vulgar or “over the top.”
Representatives of the state Attorney General’s office, Georgia Department of Driver Services and the Department of Revenue, the agency that administers vanity plates, declined to comment on the lawsuit.
A Journal-Constitution analysis of banned and approved vanity plates found the difference between 10,214 banned tags and the 91,151 accepted tags is sometimes ambiguous.
Department of Revenue officials have acknowledged in the past that the process of approving vanity plates is inconsistent. State officials approved HATERS, but denied HATERS1, for instance.
“I think it’s pretty clear the statute has been applied arbitrary without regard to any state interest,” said Cynthia Counts, a free speech lawyer representing Gilbert. “And the restrictions have reflected viewpoint discrimination and that alone should be fatal.”
By denying speech that supports gay rights, while allowing conservative, religious speech like JESUS4U, Counts argues the state is favoring one political belief or philosophy over another.