Back in 2006, I wrote:
[T]he amount of time the legislature spends on license plates is absurd. Like I said, we have more than 30 listed in the Indiana Code and I think there are a fair number of other plates issued under a BMV administrative procedure. Why don’t we just require every Hoosier to design their own individual license plate and be done with it. It’s government identification, not a fashion accessory.
Mike Kole had similar thought, put in a catchier way, “the license plate serves a particular function, and the bumper sticker goes on the bumper.”
Anyway, Indiana having gotten into the state endorsement of causes via license plate business, Rep. Jeff Thompson now wants a laundry list of causes the state can’t approve in this fashion:
(1) Use of illegal drugs.
(2) Use of tobacco or tobacco products by a minor.
(3) Sexual activity involving a minor.
(4) Sexual activity outside of marriage not in accordance with IC 20-30-5-13. (This pertains to school curriculum on abstinence and STDs & pregnancy)
(5) Use of pornography.
(7) Disrespect for parents, the family, religion, healthy behavior, or good citizenship as described in: (A) IC 20-30-5-5; or (B) IC 20-30-5-6.
(8) The undermining of the Constitution of the United States or the Constitution of the State of Indiana.
(9) The (A) undermining of the law; or (B) overthrow; of the government of the United States.
(10) A lifestyle that is contrary to: (A) IC 20-30-5-13; or (B) marriage between one (1) man and one (1) woman.
(11) The use of alcoholic beverages by an individual less than twenty-one (21) years of age.
Rep. Thompson’s proposed amendment seems to be of the “bury the lede” variety. The part about “marriage between one man and one woman” which I have put in bold seems to be the real point of the exercise. He either shares the anxiety of or is carrying water for the likes of Micah Clark with the American Family Association of Indiana (Caution: may not actually be beneficial to Americans or Families). Clark is irritated by the Indiana Youth Group license plate.
The Indiana Youth Group was “founded Founded in 1987 as a response to the needs of self-identified Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender or Questioning youth” and provides programs protecting the mental and physical health of Indiana’s LGBT youth. So, you know, just like illegal drugs, porn, and overthrowing the United States. But, Mr. Clark doesn’t like this kind of organization because of teh gay.
Somewhat of a digression, but it ties in pretty well I think, is an article by Sabrina Rubin Erdely entitled, “One Town’s War on Gay Teens.” that is absolutely infuriating. It tells of an area in Minnesota, the Anoka-Hennepin School District where the anti-gay culture has become oppressive. The school district had adopted a policy stating that “homosexuality not be taught/addressed as a normal, valid lifestyle.” This, apparently, tied the hands of teachers to do anything about the incessant bullying of gay students in an area where other students absorbed the antipathy of their conservative evangelical parents. Being different is going to get a kid bullied just about anywhere; but this place went to a whole new level, it appears, with particularly elevated suicide rates.
Clark and the American Family Association, to me, seem to be part of that small but vocal subset of Christians that wants to mark its territory – not for any kind of spiritual benefits it provides to its members or to the community at large, but simply as a display of that group’s dominance (which makes the periodic howls of persecution when they don’t get their way that much harder to take).
License plates aren’t really the place to fight the culture wars; but if we’re going to have “In God We Trust” and “Choose Life” and whatnot, then a plate that is devoted to an organization that tries to make the lives of LGBTQ a little easier certainly seems like fair game.
Outside of the specific license plate issue, here is where I fundamentally disconnect with members of the American Family Association: I do not believe sexuality is sinful; and I do believe that homosexuality is something intrinsic to individuals who are gay. Neither is a “lifestyle choice.” So much of the culture war seems to come down to sex; whether they’re screaming bloody murder about contraception or proclaiming the sanctity of life that seems to have no particular worth to them between birth and brain death or getting all twisted up about what the gays are up to (with an inordinate number of the culture warriors seeming to be closeted, self-loathing gays.)
If, somehow, we could come to see sex as an inherent part of human existence but not such a Big Deal, I think we’d see a reduction in both the hypersexualization in our culture and a toning down of the culture wars. Without the taboo, sex stops being such an effective hook for marketing: political, commercial, or otherwise. Also, too, if wishes were horses, then beggars would ride.