Texas rejects Confederate flag license plate

Texas' DMV has vetoed a license plate promoting a Confederacy interest group, which plans to sue the state.

Texas lawmakers have officially rejected the Sons of Confederate Veterans' proposal for a license plate depicting a logo that contains the Stars and Bars flag long associated with the Confederate States of America.

The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles board vetoed the plate yesterday, citing the flag's association with racism.

"The state of Texas should not sanction what's become a symbol of hatred and racism," state Senator Rodney Ellis, a Houston Democrat, wrote in a letter read to the board during the meeting. "The Confederate battle flag has become a symbol of violence, repression, not heritage."

Opponents also included Texas governor Rick Perry, who said that the state doesn't "need to be opening old wounds."

The Sons of Confederate Veterans countered, saying that the battle flag honors Southern history and that members of the group don't use it to promote racism.

"It's very disheartening when people are swayed by emotional issues rather than looking at things historically and correctly," Sons of Confederate Veterans commander-in-chief Michael Givens said.

Until three years ago, Texas banned all "political or controversial" license plates, but it now has several politically-tinged plates, including a new Buffalo Soldiers plate approved yesterday.

Davis said it was contradictory for the DMV to approve the Buffalo Soldiers plate, which is designed to honor the peacetime all-black Army regiments that helped settle the West, including most of Texas, after the Civil War.

"Both plates honor the veteran, not the cause," he said.

Sons of Confederate Veterans likely to sue
The group says that it plans to sue the Texas DMV over the rejection. Citing success with similar lawsuits in Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina, Givens is confident that his group will prevail.

"Now, because of their actions, they're going to cause the state of Texas to have to foot the bill for a lawsuit and the taxpayers will have to pay for that and it's completely unnecessary," he said.

Sons of Confederate Veterans, based in Columbia, Tennessee, lists a membership of 30,000 spread across the United States. It has successfully campaigned for license plates bearing a portion of the stars and bars flag in nine states, eight of which were former Confederate states.