An Oregon man who goes by the name Bishop waged a nine-month battle with the DMV for the right to wear a fox hat in his driver’s license picture and he WON.
“I’m a practitioner of the Seven Drums religion. It’s one of the Nez Perce religions where we all have an animal totem,” the Portland man told KATU-TV.
At first, he thought the hat would float through the system without a problem. DMV employees took his license renewal picture and everything seemed fine.
“Then, down at the state office where all the IDs go through review, a gentleman saw my ID and thought I was just wearing some silly hat,” Bishop said.
The state rejected his application as a result of the hat, leaving him license-less for nine months.
David House, a DMV spokesman, said there’s a good reason for the department’s anti-hat protocol.
“For our facial recognition software to work, we need people to remove any hat or facial gear that obscures their face,” House explained.
Protocol or not, Bishop wasn’t willing to give up his hat, so Bishop hired an attorney.
“Religious freedom is one of the foundational principles of the United States,” Bishop’s lawyer Bradley Steinman said. “It’s one of the things that makes our country the greatest country on the earth.”
In the end, Bishop won his appeal and now boasts a happily behatted picture on his Oregon license which is, he says, as it should be.
“It shouldn’t matter if you wear a yarmulke or a hijab or, ‘a silly fox hat,’ as the man at the DMV wants to call it,” he said.