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Man sues Georgia for blocking "GAYGUY" vanity license plate

ATLANTA (Reuters) - An Atlanta man is suing the state of Georgia after his application for a vanity license plate that he said described his sexual orientation was denied.

State officials turned down the three text choices - 4GAYLIB, GAYPWR and GAYGUY - that James Cyrus Gilbert, 30, submitted on January 2 for a personalized tag, according to a lawsuit filed this month against the commissioner of the Georgia Department of Driver Services.

Georgia offers drivers the opportunity to purchase "prestige license plates" for their cars for an extra $35 fee. But the state prohibits any tag that "may adversely affect public safety or is offensive, profane, or defamatory in nature," according to the license plate application.

All three phrases requested by Gilbert are on the state's "bad tag" list, said the lawsuit, which claims Georgia has violated his First Amendment right to free speech.

"I am a gay man," Gilbert said on Wednesday. "I am a taxpayer. I pay my bills just like everyone else. If I want to have ‘GAYGUY' or 'GAYPOWER' on my license plate, I should be able to do that."

Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens declined to comment on the lawsuit.

"You could understand curse words," being banned from tags, said Gilbert's attorney, Cynthia Counts, "but there's just no rational reason for this."

(Reporting by David Beasley; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Leslie Gevirtz)