8/24/2010 10:13:00 AM When you hit the road, be a billboard for life
At Issue By Lois Rogers | Features Editor
There’s not much you can’t pay to support with a New Jersey license plate these days.
From trees to wildlife to organ donors, an end to cancer and heart disease, any community or military organization you can think of and even out-of-state alumni organizations, New Jersey’s catalog of specialty license plates for worthy causes would rival any in the country.
With a pretty glaring exception that is: a “Choose Life” license plate very similar to those already on the road in 25 states around the nation.
If leaders of the Children First Foundation have their way, that may soon change. After a seven year campaign and court battle to secure state approval for the plate, they appealed directly to Governor Chris Christie Aug. 2.
Shortly after the foundation made its appeal, Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak told the Star Ledger the administration is reviewing all aspects of the request in context of the pending litigation.
The key issues with the plate – which depicts two smiling children – a boy and a girl – in a circle – are the accompanying “slogan”: Choose Life and the fact that proceeds from the sales of the plates would go to crisis pregnancy centers and maternity homes run by agencies that respect life.
Critics say New Jersey’s line of dedicated plates – which must be approved by the legislature – don’t include slogans, ruling out the possibility of “Choose Life” plates.
Excuse me, but if “Conserve Wildlife,” isn’t a slogan, I don’t know what is. “Treasure Our Trees,” certainly speaks volumes for preserving our woodlands.
How about “Organ Donors Save Lives.” Sure sounds like a slogan to me.
More to the point though, is the fact that 25 states have approved similar plates.
Elizabeth Rex, president and founder of Children First, which is the official sponsor of campaigns for the “Choose Life” license plate in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut, says she has figures which show 40,000 plates with the slogan are on the road in Florida.
She’s among scores of supporters of the license plate – designed, she said, specifically to promote adoption as an alternative to abortion – hoping for a favorable response from the administration.
“This should be a no brainer,” said Rex, speaking from California where she is vacationing with her three children, two of whom she and husband Charles adopted.
“If there is one thing we have learned over the years, it is that there are very creative ways for the states to support good causes and organizations and raise awareness of worthy efforts,” said Rex, who noted that $20 of the $25 annual cost of each plate goes to the cause it advocates.
“We made a direct appeal to Governor Christie because he can make an administrative decision,” to approve the plate, said Rex. A bill to create the “Choose Life” plates was introduced in the legislature in May but has not advanced, she said.
“We are trying to encourage the approval of this plate so that it can help raise awareness of and funding for pregnancy centers and maternity homes in New Jersey. It has a positive message of support for adoption.
“Adoption is a choice everyone can support,” she said. “This is a plate everyone can support. These plates are on the road in Mississippi and Alabama and Florida to name just three of the states.
“Florida’s 40,000 license plates raise about $800,000 a year to fund these important organizations that provide services, housing and medical assistance. Mississippi and Alabama have raised over $2 million for these causes.
“These are traveling bill boards and they bring a positive message,” Rex said. “It might be just the message someone who is making a decision about life is looking for.”
Rex is hoping that those in favor of the license plates will contact the governor’s office with a show of support.