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Specialty Plates Spark Controversy

The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles Board has approved a specialty license plate that reads “One State Under God." It has three Christian crosses on it.

The DMV board voted 4-3 yesterday to approve the plate.

“Everyone has the right to put religious messages on their car but you don’t need government-approved religious speech to do that. And this is important because giving government the power to play favorites diminishes religious freedom for people of all faiths,” said Dan Quinn, with the Texas Freedom Network, a group that opposes the influence of religion on government.

Specialty plates have proven contentious in Texas and across the nation. The Texas Division of Sons of Confederate Veterans filed a lawsuit yesterday in federal court over a proposed license plate that the Texas DMV board rejected. It would have displayed the Confederate battle flag. Opponents, including some state lawmakers, said Confederate plates would symbolize racism, oppression and hatred. You can read theletter from state House reps here.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans say the plates are about honoring the state’s heritage. Attorney Amy Saberian is representing the group in its effort to overturn the board’s decision.

“My understanding is it was rejected based on that it’s offensive to any member of the public, which is one of the standards in the Texas transportation code however, we consider that standard to be very vague and to run counter to the First Amendment. There have been many other plates that have been approved that would arguably be offensive to any member of the public,” Saberian said.

The Confederate plate was the first specialty plate to be rejected since the DMV Board was created two years ago. Governor Rick Perry appoints members to the board.

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