A proposed bill in the District of Columbia would allow the D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles to create LGBTQ Pride-themed license plates as one of several specialty plate options.
The Pride Plates Act of 2023, introduced by Councilmember Robert White (D-At-Large) would instruct the DMV to create LGBTQ-themed license plates that people could purchase, with proceeds benefiting the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs, which typically provides programming, grants, and other resources to the local LGBTQ community.
Under the legislation, a fund would be created to stockpile money obtained through donations or specialty license plate fees from the District, and any money appropriated in the fund but not spent in a particular year will continue to be available in subsequent months and years.
According to WTOP, the District already makes several specialty plates supporting various causes, such as plates supporting the cleanup and protection of the Anacostia River watershed, D.C.’s military veteran community, and even local sports teams. The District’s Committee on Transportation and the Environment held a hearing, and the Committee on Government Operations held a mark-up on a nearly identical bill last year.
Once the bill passes, the DMV would be tasked with designing the template for the plates, although White is hopeful that the agency will consult with local LGBTQ advocates to ensure the plates are inclusive and up-to-date.
White hopes that D.C. drivers will be driving around with Pride-themed license plates by the time the District hosts WorldPride in 2025, which also marks the 50th anniversary of Pride in the nation’s capital.
“The District’s LGBTQ community is incredibly vibrant and active across our city,” White said in a statement. “Unfortunately, LGBTQ people around the country are being persecuted. This bill reaffirms the District’s dedication to our LGBTQ residents and visitors, and also gives drivers an opportunity to make a difference with small but meaningful recurring contributions to [the Office of LGBTQ Affairs].”
Other councilmembers currently signed on as co-sponsors of the reintroduced legislation are Councilmembers Kenyan McDuffie (D-At-Large), Christina Henderson (I-At-Large), Brooke Pinto (D-Ward 2), Matthew Frumin (D-Ward 3), Janeese Lewis (D-Ward 4), Zachary Parker (D-Ward 5), Charles Allen (D-Ward 6) and Vincent Gray (D-Ward 7).
In a statement responding to an inquiry from Metro Weekly, White noted that D.C. has one of the largest openly LGBTQ populations per capita in the United States, which could help generate interest in the specialty plate.
“Our LGBTQ community members are vocal advocates for full inclusion and proactive government support for LGBTQ residents,” White responded in an email. “So, I think if Washingtonians have the chance to pay a small fee for Pride Plates knowing that the funding will support LGBTQ programs, many of our residents will jump at the opportunity.”
Asked whether some residents might be worried about being open about their sexual orientation or gender identity, White noted that the plate would be available to people of all genders and sexual orientations who simply want to help provide extra funding for LGBTQ programs.
“As an ally, it’s not my place to tell people how and when to disclose their identities,” he said. “[But] I do think there is power in visibility, and I hope that our District government’s clear commitment to LGBTQ safety and prosperity would help residents feel comfortable joining in this gesture of solidarity.”
He added that there are no current programs dependent on this funding stream, so even if demand for the specialty plates is slow to materialize, it won’t negatively impact or reduce funding for existing LGBTQ programs.
“We already obtained a fiscal impact analysis, so we know that the DMV is prepared to implement this without any additional government funding,” White said. “The upside is that if the design does take off, the Office of LGBTQ Affairs will have extra funds to send to organizations that have ideas for how to support the community.”
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