When Marine veteran Alex Morales headed over to a California Division of Motor Vehicles office to get his driver’s license renewed last month, he was wearing his “USMC” baseball cap.
Once inside the facility, the Bakersfield resident readied to get his photo taken — but as his wife Henrietta recounted on a Facebook post, the DMV wasn’t too keen on his headwear and asked him to remove his cap.
Morales said no.
He was asked a second time. And for a second time, Morales refused.
Curiosity took hold of the official, who asked why he wouldn’t remove his cap. Morales replied that he saw other men wearing religious head coverings who were getting photographed with no problem: “Those men didn’t remove their head wear, I shouldn’t either.”
His wife recounted the DMV’s retort — that “this was their attire and their religion.”
“Alex told the DMV person that what he had on was his attire and when he entered the Marines he declared an oath to the USA, and one nation under God” — and therefore his oath was “just as good as his religion.”
Believe it or not, the DMV apparently didn’t know what to do. Henrietta said supervisors got involved and a phone call to Sacramento, the state capital, was made.
After an hour, Morales was given a preliminary verdict: He could wear his hat for the photo — but if there were any problems, the office would let him know, and he could appeal the ruling.
“He told them if there was a problem he WILL appeal it,” Henrietta wrote. “Alex feels no one has more right to display their head gear then a veteran or active service person.”
As Morales departed, several DMV employees apparently clapped quietly — and he’s spoken to other vets who now intend to do the same thing when their licenses go up for renewal.
And the final verdict? On Dec. 18, Morales got his driver’s license showing him wearing the cap.
“Well he did it!” Henrietta wrote.
The post has been shared over 139,000 times.
It isn’t clear on the California DMV website what the photo policy is, but a Q&A article in the Roseville & Granite Bay Press Tribune has this to say:
The department prefers the removal of headgear, unless it is part of your normal identification, or is worn because of religious beliefs.
In those instances, headgear is permissible as long as the individual’s face is visible. Generally, headgear such as a baseball hat can obstruct the eyes, nose, mouth or cause dark shadows. This can result in unacceptable photographs and unnecessary return trips to our field offices.
(H/T: Western Journalism)