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CA DMV rejects leather vanity plate

Sunday Feb 24, 2019

The leather lifestyle is apparently too sexual for officials with the state Department of Motor Vehicles.

In rejecting a San Francisco resident's request for a vanity license plate that would have been shorthand for "leather daddy," the DMV noted the phrase's "sexual connotation" and how it can be read "as a term of lust or depravity" in the letter it sent to Robert Haynes in January explaining its decision.

Haynes, shocked by the agency's reasoning, contacted the office of gay state Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) for help in winning approval for the "LTHR DDY" vanity license plate he would like to attach to his 2015 Kawasaki Vulcan motorcycle.

"I understood when I submitted this the term could be controversial. But for it to be a lustful or depraved reference is missing the scope of leather culture," Haynes, 38, told the Bay Area Reporter. "And it is kind of endemic of how people take leather culture from the outside and immediately relate it to sexual as being exclusive to the entire lifestyle."

Living in a state as progressive as California, which has been on the vanguard of LGBT rights in recent years, Haynes was shocked by the DMV's stated purpose for its rejection.

"I would expect this perhaps in other parts of the country," he said. "But I really thought California was a little more open-minded and less dualistic in seeing everything as a good and bad binary if you will."

Wiener told the B.A.R. that the decision made by the DMV as stated in the letter is based on homophobic notions of what a leather daddy is. He sent a letter to DMV officials demanding that they approve Haynes' vanity plate.

"If it doesn't, I will turn this into a big deal," said Wiener, who last year received an apology from a neighborhood newspaper in San Francisco after it was accused of homophobia for running a photo of the lawmaker shirtless but adorned in a leather vest alongside a story on a controversial housing bill he had authored. "If this is an intentional decision, and I am hoping it is not, but if the agency stands by this decision that is a big problem. That would be very disrespectful of the LGBT community and leather community, and frankly, would be homophobic."

DMV officials did not respond to the B.A.R.'s request for comment by deadline this week. Last Friday, the agency informed Wiener it had received his letter and was "in the process of drafting a reply at this time."

Copyright Bay Area Reporter. For more articles from San Francisco's largest GLBT newspaper, visit www.ebar.com


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