USDA Rejects Farmer's Application Because He Lives In Town Named 'Gay'

Apparently, the USDA has some strict regulations when it comes to offensive language in applications. Those regulations, however, don't account for legitimate town names.

A Georgia man sent in an application to the US Department of Agriculture to get a special interstate transport license. His application came back rejected because he attempted to use a 'banned word' in his address. The word was the name of his town, and the man was shocked.

Gene King doesn't consider the name of his town offensive; but apparently, the USDA does. The Gay, Georgia resident says the government agency refused to issue him a license with his home city listed as 'Gay'.

Gay, Georgia is a small town, with a population of about 100, that lies about 60 miles south of Atlanta. The town was named after its founder, William F. Gay, in 1882.

They're best known for the bi-annual Gay Fair, but they had to change the name because people outside of the town became confused about just what kind of things went on at the Gay Fair. They now call it the 'Cotton-Picking Festival'.

King admits to Fox 5 News that it can be confusing. But he personally doesn't have any problem with the word 'Gay'.

"I have gay friends," King tells reporter Randy Travis.

"Here in Gay, Georgia?" Travis responds.

"No, not in Gay, Georgia," King adds.

"You have gay friends outside of Gay?" the reporter joked.

"Outside of Gay, yeah," King laughed.

The USDA is obviously not as accepting. They refused to issue King the license that would allow him to buy and sell cattle across the Georgia state line.

The denial came because of the name of his town: the USDA refused to recognize his home town as 'Gay'.

"No one's got a problem coming to Gay, Georgia," said King. "I don't have a problem living in Gay, Georgia. But the USDA's got a problem with Gay, Georgia."

The woman at the licensing department told King that the machine was kicking out the application automatically because the word 'gay' was on the banned word list. Back when the system was created in 2004, there was a whole list of banned words that computers were programmed to deny in order to prevent people from putting in sneaky or offensive messages.

The woman tried to persuade King to change his home city to Bay, but King refused. "My name is Gene King. I live here in Gay, Ga. That's G-A-Y, not B-A-Y."

Eventually, the USDA got the application to go through by changing the name of King's city, and they were then able to go back and change his city to Gay. The USDA said in a statement that they're working on the problem.

"The premises identification allocator was originally developed in the early 2000s for the National Animal Identification System, using the technology available at the time. The program was very contentious and IT developers were concerned about the possibility of people attempting to create 'bad' premises IDs to prove there was a problem with the program or its IT systems. They created a database of words with bad connotations that would not be allowed in the system," read the statement.

"Since that time, the NAIS program has ended and been replaced by animal disease traceability regulations. The IT architecture was repurposed to meet the new regulations, until the time it could be redesigned to take advantage of newer technology available to validate addresses. After a delay due to intensive efforts to combat highly pathogenic avian influenza this spring, the agency is working to upgrade the technology so this will no longer be an issue," the statement concluded.

Source: Fox 5
Photo: Fox5 Screenshot, /em>

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