By Liz Townsend
A Florida Democrat running for a nonpartisan property appraiser's position has been asked to remove her "Choose Life" license plates or face withdrawal of support from party leaders.
Joy Hearn, a 14-year veteran of the Palm Beach County appraiser's office who is a first-time candidate, told NRL News that two Democratic Party officials advised her to remove her license plates. "One gentleman said he can't support me or raise money for me unless I take the tags off," she said.
"I was surprised," Hearn said. "It has nothing to do with this office. It's a nonpartisan, non-policy-making position."
The property appraiser deals with tax assessments for real estate and other property in the county. It has nothing to do with the issues of abortion or adoption.
Florida is one of 10 states that offer "Choose Life" license plates. The proceeds from the sale of the plates go to programs supporting adoption and health care for pregnant mothers. Over 45,000 Florida motorists have bought the plates since 1999, contributing more than $2 million to such programs, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
For Hearn, having the license plate demonstrates her personal beliefs. "Being pro-life is an extension of my faith," she said. "It would be dishonest for me to remove the plate and I'm an honest person."
Hearn is not the only pro-life Democrat who has been pressured by party officials to hide or change her position of life issues.
"The bias against pro-lifers in the Democratic Party is happening around the country," Kristen Day, executive director of Democrats for Life of America, told NRL News. "This is exactly what our group is trying to prevent."
Day said that she hopes Hearn continues to stay strong. "We'd like to tell her to keep up the good work," she said. "We're behind her 100%."
Hearn told NRL News that she will continue her campaign without compromising her beliefs. "We'll see what happens," she said. "Whether you take the plate off or keep it on, you're still pro-life."