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Indiana BMV must reinstate nonbinary gender marker options on driver’s licenses

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Posted at 1:38 PM, Jan 10, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-10 13:38:18-05

MONROE COUNTY – Monroe County Circuit Court has ruled Indiana BMV must reinstate nonbinary gender marker options on driver’s licenses.

“We’re pleased with the outcome of these cases because our clients’ statutory and constitutional rights to governmental recognition of their gender was upheld by the courts. People will once again be able to have consistent, accurate government records that reflect their gender,” said Megan Stuart, director of advocacy for Indiana Legal Services. “These types of cases speak to our mission to use the law to ensure all Hoosiers, regardless of their gender identity, are treated fairly and equally by the State.”

The BMV began offering “X” as a gender option in 2019 but ended the practice in 2020 after Attorney General Curtis Hill issued an advisory opinion stating the state agency did not possess the authority to offer this option.

In June 2021, Indiana Legal Services sued the BMV and former Commissioner Peter Lacy on behalf of 13 plaintiffs to force the BMV to follow the law. They claimed that advisory opinions do not determine the agency’s compliance with existing legal obligations.

The ruling, issued on Dec.29 states that the BMV violated the Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection by discriminating against nonbinary individuals.

The court also found that the BMV violated clients’ right to informational privacy by forcing applicants to choose a gender inconsistent with their gender identity.

Additionally, courts ruled the BMV’s decision to change the procedure based on Hill’s advisory opinion was an improper administrative method.

The court’s decision written by Judge Holly Harvey aligns with other courts across the country on this constitutional issue of gender inclusion.

Currently, 22 states and the federal government allow residents to choose X as a gender option on their ID’s.

“It’s good to see this case come to a positive conclusion, because at the end of the day, this was merely an administrative issue that was unfortunately politicized,” Stuart said. “Our team is acutely aware of the anti-LGBTQ sentiments that our clients face every day, and we are proud to stand with them to make sure their rights are protected.”

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