Sixteen (16) interfaith civil rights and community organizations have joined together to voice concern about the PASS ID Act of 2009,
a proposed federal law that could have a severe impact on observant
Sikhs, Jews, Muslims and others who are required to wear religious
PASS ID Act of 2009 contemplates uniform standards for driver's license
and other identification photographs throughout the United States. It
is designed to replace the REAL ID Act of 2005, which has been hugely
unpopular among state governments. Like its predecessor, the PASS ID
Act contains no explicit guarantee that religious headcoverings
may continue to be worn in driver's license and other identification
photographs. This gaping hole in the proposed law may be exploited by
the Department of Homeland Security and give the agency an opportunity
to depart from well-settled State Department standards and
either (1) ban headcoverings in driver’s license and other
identification photographs, or (2) make it easier for states to do so.
are not theoretical concerns. Earlier this year,
SALDEF and numerous interfaith organizations overcame efforts by the
legislatures of Oklahoma and Minnesota to
ban headcoverings in driver's license photographs. In addition, SALDEF
has learned that bureaucrats at the Department of Homeland
Security believe that headcoverings should not be worn
in identification photographs.
Obviously we do not want the United States to turn into France, where Sikhs are banned from wearing their dastaars (turbans) in
identification photographs. Nor do we want to live in a society in which we cannot travel or enter into transactions because we lack a 'valid'
identification document. Please call your U.S. Senators today
and tell them to amend the PASS ID Act of 2009 so that it protects our
inalienable right to wear religious headcoverings in our driver's license
and other identification photographs.