Proposed Federal Law Threatens Sikh Turban

The PASS ID Act of 2009 contemplates uniform standards for driver's license and other identification photographs th...

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 headcoverings.
The 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.

These 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.

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