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'Choose Life' license plates ruled unconstitutional in North Carolina
December 11th, 2012
01:13 AM ET

'Choose Life' license plates ruled unconstitutional in North Carolina

By Joe Sutton, CNN

(CNN) - A federal judge ruled that North Carolina's new "Choose Life" license plates are unconstitutional because the state does not offer a pro-choice alternative.

"The State's offering a Choose Life license plate in the absence of a pro-choice alternative constitutes viewpoint discrimination in violation of the First Amendment," U.S. District Court Judge James Fox wrote in the ruling Friday.

The ruling was praised by the American Civil Liberties Union, which had filed a lawsuit in 2011 to stop the specialty plates.

"This is a great victory for the free speech rights of all North Carolinians, regardless of their point of view on reproductive freedom," said Chris Brook of the ACLU. "The government cannot create an avenue of expression for one side of a contentious political issue while denying an equal opportunity to citizens with the opposite view."

Republican state Rep. Mitch Gillespie, who sponsored the bill for the "Choose Life" plates, said he would push for an appeal of the judge's decision, CNN affiliate WRAL reported.

The bill for the license plates passed in 2011, and the legislation also mandated that money raised from the sale of the specialty plates would go to a nonprofit that supports crisis pregnancy centers, WRAL reported.

During the fight to get the bill passed, North Carolina lawmakers voted down amendments that would have created pro-choice alternatives such as "Trust Women. Respect Choice," the affiliate reported.

The "Choose Life" plates are available in 29 states, according to Choose Life Inc., a nonprofit that helps states that want to sell these specialty plates.

- A. Hawkins

Filed under: Abortion • Courts • North Carolina

soundoff (3,213 Responses)
  1. Shakingmyhead

    What I am not getting is this....how does it hurt you if you dont get to select a plate saying "choose abortion"? Is there a big call in the "deep" south for it? Also what i dont get is how many legal resources are wasted because of this? Is there a law attached to this that denied abortions? No? Just little Minnie cant get a plate that blabs to the world she doesnt like abortion? People need to GROW UP. What i dont get is sheer stupidity and having a government regulate our opinions.

    December 11, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • ME II

      Because the government is providing a vehicle for expressing one opinion and not the other.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'What i dont get is sheer stupidity and having a government regulate our opinions.'

      tell that to the officials that chose 'regulate our opinions' by deliberately voting down an alternative 'opposing' plate.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • txlady

      In case you missed it - the issue is about the state allowing one side of a very contentious political argument to have a specific forum to air their opinions, but not allowing the other side the same forum to air theirs.
      It's about the suppression of free political speech.
      Government can't allow one group to voice their opinions, while suppressing others.
      And since you say you don't get 'having a government regulate our opinions', I should hope you already understood this.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • Bet

      Keep shaking your head, maybe you'll jar a few brain cells into activity.

      As has been posted ad nauseum, the problem is not the existence of the plate, it is that the legislature voted down an alternative viewpoint. States cannot, according to our const.itution, support one religious viewpoint without providing a voice for alternative viewpoints.

      Go back to civics class.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
  2. Christianity is a form of mental illness- FACT

    Joshua

    Did you even read the article? The law was struck down because it didn't provide free speech for both sides – only one side of the argument.
    .............
    Please note how the simpleton religo nuts glossed over this or have no concept.

    December 11, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • lol??

      They could have their own "Choose Death".

      December 11, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • Michael

      Laws never represent both sides of the issue. They tell you that you con't do something or that you have to do something not that you have a choice. Which law says I can exceed the speed limit? Which law says I don't have to pay my taxes? This bill has nothing to do with religion it has everything to do with life.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • Nietodarwin

      HEY there LOL
      By our running count you are now number 206 to make the stupid "choose death" remark. Go back and read the many comments, and the huge amount of ridicule, that has already happened with regard to your intelligent comment. Better yet,
      JUST READ and DON'T POST, you are an embarrassment to your side of the discussion.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'Which law says I can exceed the speed limit? Which law says I don't have to pay my taxes? This bill has nothing to do with religion it has everything to do with life.'

      poor argument.
      this is not a law, its an option the state allows and chose in this case to reject an opposing option for no good reason.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @LOL, 210...missed this one.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • Bet

      @LOL??

      #207

      December 11, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • Bet

      @ Sara

      Darn, you beat me to it!

      December 11, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Bet, yeah, and I'd counted a few on the following pages. I think the next will be 212.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
  3. Lisa

    Well you can thank the ACLU and the brain dead liberals for wasting more of your tax dollars with this lawsuit. We're running out of money and they are worrying about VOLUNTARY license plates? FU ACLU.

    December 11, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      funny, why arent you also moaning about those officials that actually took the time to deliberately vote down an alternative plate? none of this would have been needed if they hadnt done that in the first place.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • mdwesterngrl

      F U too. Read the article id iot

      December 11, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • sam stone

      it was those who opposed the pro-choice plates that necessitated this suit.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • sam stone

      also, lisa, aren't you supposed to be on your knees in a trailer park now?

      December 11, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      You can actually blame the legislators for voting against the option to have a pro-choice plate that would have brought gov't neutrality to the issue.

      FU Lisa for being a dumb a.s.s.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
  4. DustyOnes

    Such bs...the pro-choice group just has to fill out the paperwork. I guess no one wants to drive around with a pro-abortion tag!

    Hell, if I was the pro-life group I would do the paper work for them......

    December 11, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'Such bs...the pro-choice group just has to fill out the paperwork'

      The alternative pro-choice plate alternative was voted down.
      Didnt you read the whole thing?

      December 11, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • Mrs. Pepperpot

      Read the fvucking article again, dude. They VOTED the pro-choice one down when they voted the pro-life one IN.
      They were biased.
      Fvck them...it needed to go!!!

      December 11, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
  5. Zoe

    The government shouldn't have anything to do with religious beliefs, period. Separation of church and state is key to a nation like ours. Let people believe what they believe, but religious beliefs shouldn't have anything to do with the running of America.

    December 11, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • Lobo04

      I agree, don't let either side have a license plate.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
  6. lol??

    Once again the ol' adage of socies are bullies has been proven. No wonder they're hot on Sodomites.

    December 11, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • James PDX

      How is someone a bully by rightfully saying that our government should not be supporting either side of a primarily religious argument? Are you OK if your state issues plates that say "Christians are a plague on mankind"?

      December 11, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • lol??

      Better shorten it up a bit.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
  7. The Truth

    I'm thinking that even if the Pro-Choice side got their own plates we would just see a rise in road rage shootings when the since the Pro-Life people are also the Pro-Gun people... ironic I know, but thats where we are in this country.

    December 11, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • James PDX

      I think more people with extreme views shooting each other could potentially be a good thing.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • Nietodarwin

      So true Mr. TRUTH (BUT I'M AN ATHEIST WITH A GUN, who is fed up with religion in my government policy.) Also, now this wonderful internet allows us to speak reason, logic, and scientific fact without fear of being murdered by a zealot who is going to prove god exists and that he loves everybody by murdering you and sending you on your way to him without a shred of remorse or morals because they KNOW they are doing "god's will."

      December 11, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  8. Michael

    Sounds like there are a lot of religion haters out there. Life has nothing to do with religion it has everything to do with life. Your parents chose life for you. Their parents chose life for them. We are the only species that chooses to kill our children out of convience. It is not about religion it is about Humanity and responsibility. Let someone sponsor a pro-choice plate not attach it to a pro-life bill.

    December 11, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • dike

      mmmm you rather force a teenage to have a kid and with the current statistics most who make it to adult life land up useless to society, either in crime or drugs. Maybe even take a few lives... I rather not force a person to choose life, if that is the life they are capable of giving.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • Nietodarwin

      A FEMALE GUPPY EATS ABOUT %90 OF HER OFFSPRING RIGHT AFTER GIVING BIRTH (It helps get her energy back up so she can procreate again and perpetuate the species.)

      You REALLY need to take a biology class

      December 11, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • Jeff

      @Nietodarwin...if only your mother were a guppy...

      December 11, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • Speedster

      Are you kidding, only species that chooses to kill their offspring? Just about every species does that in one way or another.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
    • Nietodarwin

      Micheal, the degree of ignorance (of EVOLUTION, THE FOUNDATION OF MODERN BIOLOGY) that you have shown in this post is the reason why our test scores in science and math are so low compared to other countries. It is the reason why so many of us "nones' view religion as an enemy to our country and our survival as a species. Like Bill Nye says, if you want to believe this stuff, fine, you have "freedom of religion" JUST DON'T TEACH IT TO YOUR KIDS, OUR COUNTRY NEEDS SCIENTISTS.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • James PDX

      Why would I hate a religion that wants to oppress myself and others and says I should be tortured mercilessly for all of eternity? Hmm?

      December 11, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • The Truth

      In the US in 1911 the infant mortality rate was 135 babies died per 1000 born, now we have only about 10 per 1000 because of advanced medical procedures. So was God responsible for natures poor performance or were those babies unworthy? The number of abortions each year in the US pales in comparison to the number of fetuses nature has aborted through the years.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
  9. Shakingmyhead

    SERIOUSLY?! How is this not free spech? I dont care what side of the issue you are on, if it is choice to get the plate and not REQUIRED then HOW IS IT UNCONSITUTIONAL?!

    December 11, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      because they voted down allowing an alternative and 'opposing' plate.
      seriously, how are you not getting this?

      December 11, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • Shakingmyhead

      Would it be unconsitutional to have only salt on your table because pepper is not there? What a completely delusional argument.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'Would it be unconsitutional to have only salt on your table because pepper is not there?'

      well using that argument then yes it would be if they deliberately voted to not allow anyone the choice to have pepper.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • Akira

      Because they voted DOWN "Trust women: Respect Choice", while voting this one in...will you read the article?

      December 11, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • Christianity is a form of mental illness- FACT

      Shakingmyhead

      SERIOUSLY?! How is this not free spech? I dont care what side of the issue you are on, if it is choice to get the plate and not REQUIRED then HOW IS IT UNCONSITUTIONAL?!
      .
      Note to Religo-Caveman, please note:
      .
      "During the fight to get the bill passed, North Carolina lawmakers voted down amendments that would have created pro-choice alternatives such as "Trust Women. Respect Choice," the affiliate reported."
      .
      The group who pushed for this was not about freedom of speech, rather an agenda.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • Jeff

      ...come on now...you know this one. Anything that causes our ent.i.tled society to have to deal with something that assigns any kind of consequence for any kind of action is frowned upon. It's unconst.i.tutional because it violates our society's "...if it feels good, DO IT!" mantra. Can't have that!

      December 11, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • LeeCMH

      How you furnish you home is not the same as the force of government.

      Christians are using the GOP in an attempt to create an American theocracy.

      The Christian Taliban.

      With the Christian Taliban, hateful Christians, in addition to hating, can execute the people they hate.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
  10. James PDX

    daytonaguy, where did they say it chaps their butt? They simply said that this is not something that should appear on a government issued plate. And they are correct. Should I be able to get the government to print plates that say "Christians are a plague on mankind"?

    December 11, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
  11. Nietodarwin

    Mdwstrngirl YOU HAVE IT REVERSED.
    The religious should not be taking a state stance. We need civics classes taught in church after the services apparently. We ARE NOT a christian nation. Get your religion out of government.

    December 11, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • sortakinda

      Good idea. It worked really well in the Soviet Union, China and Nazi Germany. Left to his own Godless conceptions, man will always do the right thing.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • mdwesterngrl

      ?? isnt that what I said?

      December 11, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • mdwesterngrl

      sortakinda: tell that to Norway. Not a religious country at all but quite ethical. They have one of the lowest crime rates in the world. Now compare to America with a high religious affiliation rate and we have a very high crime rate. sorry you are wrong.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • sortakinda

      Norway has a history of Lutheranism, and the ethical unaffiliated people in Norway are not without the influence of Judeo-Christian values. Tell me their ethics are devoid of religious influences? Now Stalin, Lenin, Hitler-there were some boys whose religious connections were the perversion of religion. Not very ethical.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'It worked really well in the Soviet Union, China and Nazi Germany'

      nazi germany? i think you need to go back and study your history if you think religion was taken out of government in nazi germany.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • mdwesterngrl

      Ethics can exist outside of religion and do. So now that they are no longer religious shouldn't their rate be going up? according to your point of view? Sorry religion does not have the strangle hold on ethics. It is separate. Religious people may or may not be ethical. Same goes for atheists. Ethics and religion are NOT one and the same.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
  12. justbc

    @ sixdegrees

    Government is expressly forbidden from promoting a particular religion, which is what this plate does. I know you'll reach for denial on this point, but tough; you and I both know I'm right.

    Since when is NOT agreeing with abortion a "Religion"? I thought it was a belief.

    December 11, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • Michael

      This plate has nothing to do with religion it has everything to do with life.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • mdwesterngrl

      This plate has everything to do with a religious vs scientific viewpoint as to when life starts and when a few cells actually becomes a viable person. This is an issue without a simple solution. It will always be grey in certain areas. This is a religious viewpoint. period.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
  13. sortakinda

    If it isn't "alive," why do you have to kill it? "Pro-choice," be honest. You don't care if he/she is alive. You got here first and you want to decide whether he/she continues to live. No real woman would kill her own child.

    December 11, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • Huebert

      A fetus is not a child. Abortion is not killing. If you fix these misconceptions the pro-choice argument makes more sense.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • sortakinda

      We have the right to vote and many people have no problem telling you that they voted. You can rationalize all you want. Call an unborn child a "mistake." And you are correcting a "mistake." You're still killing, takin a life, at whatever stage of development. Tell me how many women are PROUD to talk about their abortions, the RIGHT they exercised.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • Akira

      Women who obtain abortion represent every religious affiliation. 43% of women obtaining abortion identify themselves as Protestant, and 27% as Catholic; and 13% of abortion patients describe themselves as born-again or Evangelical Christians.

      Be honest; belief has nothing to do with abortion.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • Huebert

      Sortakinda

      While it may not be the most elegant, abortion is a very effective solution to the problem of an unwanted pregnancy. And most women don't talk about having abortion is that it is no one else's business.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • Bet

      I don't know what you mean by a "real" woman, but you can read stories about women (and men) who kill their unwanted, unloved children every day.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • sortakinda

      Huebert
      Most women don't talk about it because it is a taboo subject for conversation, generally, and because of guilt,doubts and the fact that an abortion does not solve depression, spousal abuse, financial concerns or anything else. It isn't the solution. It is part of the problem.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • sortakinda

      Bet
      Those people are known as sociopaths.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • Huebert

      sortakinda

      Abortion isn't meant to solve depression, spousal abuse or financial concerns, though it can stop financial concerns from getting worse. It's meant to prevent an unwanted child from being born. That is all it can be expected to do.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • Bet

      You said "real women don't kill their children". I simply pointed out that many unloved, unwanted children are killed every day, after suffering short, miserable lives. Often, there are abused siblings who then go into the foster care system and get shuffled from home to home until they are shoved into society at age 18. Other children may not be killed, but are subject to horrific abuse for their entire childhood. How do you think these children will parent their own kids?

      Whatever label you want to pin on it, it happens.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  14. Lala

    I wonder if so many men talk about this issue because of the child support sentence or if they really care about what kind of life an unwanted child will have after it is born.

    December 11, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
  15. justbc

    @pattyo27

    Go feed a poor person if you're so concerned with human life and get off the internet telling people how to live their lives.

    Aren't you telling me how to live my life? j/s

    December 11, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • sortakinda

      I think you should be able to kill anyone that you like, at whatever age, stage level of health or intelligence. I also think today is the heyday of genocide and what's your problem?

      December 11, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
  16. Sma Yaza

    Why not just settle for a plate frame like the rest of us, who want to share a religious views why force the government to do it

    mine says "i brake for fairies"

    you don't see me forcing the government to make me a plate that says it

    December 11, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • Fact

      Does your plate also say "Choose Anal"...?

      December 11, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • JD

      Really – This is what our courts are spening their time on...Such a waste of resources...that is the problem in America today...wasting rof resources

      December 11, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
  17. Michael

    Sounds like we need a new federal judge that understands both sides of an issue not just the that destroys human life. He touts discrimination but then discriminates against the choose life group. One sided as usual in the court system.

    December 11, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • Sma Yaza

      enough with the christian persecution nonsense, the government should not support your religious views, after all your biggtots.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • sam stone

      what makes you think that the judge doesn't understand both sides of the issue?

      do you?

      December 11, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • Akira

      The lawmakers voted DOWN "Trust Women: respect choice" when voting IN this plate.
      Why is it so many people have MISSED reading this?
      The judge was correct.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • mdwesterngrl

      the government should not be promoting any religious idea. period. you can do that yourself. nobody is stopping you. look there is a can of paint. get to it :)

      December 11, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      he did understand both sides of the issue, hence the ruling. Its you that seems to be having trouble understanding.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • MOM

      How is not wanting to kill a baby a religious idea? You don't have to belong to any religion to want to protect a human life.
      People who want to kill a baby because it's more conveneint for them are very selfish.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • sam stone

      MOM: this is not about "wanting to kill babies", this is about a woman's choice over her own body.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • mdwesterngrl

      the problem is your very narrow definition of what defending life is and your inability to allow for interpretations outside your narrow viewpoint.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
  18. DrEvil

    How is the stifling of the rights of some a great victory for free speech? The proper response to speech one doesn't like is more speech offering an alternative, not silencing those one disagrees with. The ACLU argues against our individual rights more often than for our rights.

    December 11, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      Government is expressly forbidden from promoting a particular religion, which is what this plate does. I know you'll reach for denial on this point, but tough; you and I both know I'm right.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • Joshua

      Did you even read the article? The law was struck down because it didn't provide free speech for both sides – only one side of the argument.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      If the gov't has an outlet for one view on an issue and does not have the same outlet on the opposite view then the gov't is favoring one particular view and it is not allowed to do that.

      Ask yourself if you would feel the same way if there was a Pro Choice option for a License Plate and that was the ONLY option.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • daytonaguy

      Six Degrees, you make me laugh. I can just see you with your arms folded across your chest and stomping your foot. And you know I'm right, Nya Nya Nya...

      December 11, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • tesul

      If you read the article, it states that the NC legislature voted down a pro-choice license plate. The ACLU only brought the suit because the state was apparently only giving free speech options to one side of the argument.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • sam stone

      the alternative was on the table, but the legislators voted it down. this is the crux of the issue.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • julnor

      SixDegrees, just what religion is being promoted by "choose life"?

      December 11, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • DCDewey

      SixDegrees:
      So which particular religion is the government promoting by authorizing this plate? Can't people without a particular faith also be Pro Life? You and I both know I'm right on this one, aye?!?!

      December 11, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  19. hotsauce

    If we truly want equality then a man should be able to "opt out" of responsibility for a child just like the mother can (and should be able to) opt out of having the child in the first place.

    December 11, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • Akira

      Many of the women getting abortions are because the men opted out of staying with her during the pregnancy.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • mdwesterngrl

      one does not equate the other...sorry

      December 11, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • hotsauce

      That sounds more like the women choosing a bad person to mate with.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • Sponge

      In most states, men are able to opt out of paying for a child by signing away his rights completely.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • hotsauce

      @mdwesterngl – Im sorry, did you have a counter point to make?

      December 11, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • Akira

      Which may be why she's choosing to get an abortion.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • cdarnold2

      I'm raising a daughter whose father hasn't seen her since she was 2. Men DO opt out, they do it all the time. Women don't have that same option. Not saying anything to implt pro-life or pro-choice either way, just that I think it was a silly comment to imply that men have less choices than women when it comes to children.

      December 11, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
  20. Bob

    Xtians need to stop ramming their religion down other peoples throats.

    December 11, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • hotsauce

      I get it you dont tolerate christians. But bobby you have been posting the same anti religous tid bits that contribute nothing to the overall topic for hours. I guess when a person isnt filled with faith they leave it open for other things like hate.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • The Truth

      What Bob is saying is that just because you view him as not "filled with faith" that is not an invitation stuff your version on him. You push it in schools, you push it in the courts, you push it in the government, all unwilling participants so YOU are a religious r a p i s t, plain and simple, and Bob is just point it out. KEEP YOUR FVCKING RELIGION TO YOURSELF!!

      December 11, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • Bet

      @ hotsauce

      It leaves lots of room for knowledge, reason, tolerance of other's views and freedom from the fear of a vengeful, petulant sky daddy, that's for sure.

      December 11, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
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