Congress passed the Real ID Act in 2005. The law sets new validity requirements for state driver’s licenses.
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After years of trying and getting turned away, a Chandler man has finally received his official Arizona driver’s license bearing a photo of him wearing a spaghetti strainer on his head.

He appears to be the first Arizonan to successfully do so, though his victory is brief: State officials say they will void the license.

And while some may say it’s a joke, he says it’s an act of religious freedom. 

Sean Corbett of Chandler has long believed in respecting and never judging others. Then, three years ago, he stumbled across the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, also known as Pastafarianism.

The church promotes a lighthearted view of religion. It was created in 2005 to criticize schools teaching intelligent design alongside evolution, but has become a social movement for freedom of religion and expression. 

“Some may view the religion as a satirical version of standard religion,” Corbett said. “I think it really drives in the point that if you’re going to include one, you have to include all. You have to respect everybody’s beliefs if you’re going to respect one.”

Denied, harassed at many MVDs

Corbett, 36, said he first tried to take a license photo wearing a colander in 2014.

“I tried a couple different locations and was met with a lot of pushback and resistance. I was scorned at every location I went to, and they put out a memo about me, so by the time I got to (the) fourth and fifth MVD, they stopped me at the door.

“They got angry at me and treated me with such disrespect.”

He recently tried again and, after talking with the location’s manager, was able to take the photo. He received his official ID in the mail on Tuesday. 

“I was really excited,” Corbett said. “I felt, in that moment, that I won my battle. It was a huge victory for me.” 

“Initially it may have started off as, ‘Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if I could get a spaghetti strainer in my picture? That would be boss,’ but if you look at what’s going on in the world today, people being persecuted for religious beliefs, maybe it’s time to take a step back and say, ‘You know what? You shouldn’t be persecuted for your religion.’ “

ROBERTS:  Arizona issues driver’s license to a guy wearing WHAT?

State: We will void the license

A spokesman for the Arizona Department of Transportation, which oversees the Motor Vehicle Division, released a statement on the matter. 

“MVD license and ID photos are meant to show a person’s typical daily appearance and allow for religious expression or medical needs. Photos are filtered through facial recognition technology and if an error occurs, the photo can be recalled,” the statement said. 

Spokesman Doug Nick later added that “we will go through the process to pull this credential.”

“I’m going to fight it,” Corbett said. “They have no valid reason to void it.” 

Corbett: It’s about freedom for everyone

Corbett said he hopes he can help pave the way for people of other religions to wear what they want in their license photos — a hijab or a turban, for example — without the same resistance he faced.

“It’s a terrible feeling. It’s nothing anybody should have to experience,” Corbett said. “They shouldn’t be bullied because their beliefs are different from other people.”

“For the government to step in and say, ‘You have the right to religious freedom but we’re not going to allow you to recognize this religion’ is just preposterous.”


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