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Sultaana Lakiana Myke Freeman is a resident of the state of Florida, United States. She gained media attention when she sued the state of Florida in order to wear a face veil for her driver's license picture.
Born as Sandra Keller in Washington, D.C. in 1967, she attended school in Decatur, Illinois and, in 1985, she enrolled at Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois, graduating in 1989 with a degree in Commercial Music and a Business Administration minor. Later in 1989, she began employment at a utility company which lasted for a ten-year period, in which she was an engineering assistant.
Freeman converted to Islam in January 1997, initially only wearing the headscarf, but donning the full face veil (niqab) by the end of the year. In December 1997, she obtained an Illinois driver's license with the veil, to reflect her new outside appearance and faith.
Around two years after Freeman converted to Islam, Decatur, Illinois police arrested and charged her with battering a foster child. In 1999 she pleaded guilty to the felony aggravated battery and was therefore sentenced to 18 months probation for beating one of two foster children in her care. The child's arm was broken. After her conviction the State of Illinois removed both foster children from her home.
During arrest she was photographed for a mug shot: this (uncovered) photo was very often shown in contrast to her (covered) driving licence photo in extensive media coverage of her litigation with the state of Florida over the licence, which began in 2002.
- January - Converts to Islam
- August - Legally changes her name to "Sultaana"
- October - Meets and marries Abdul-Maalik Freeman
- December - Obtains an Illinois driver's license wearing the face veil in the photo and begins regularly veiling her face while working and elsewhere in public
- February - Sultaana Freeman obtains a Florida driver's license wearing the face veil in the photo
- Nov & Dec - Freeman receives two letters demanding her to unveil for a new photo or her current license will be cancelled before expiring
- Jan. 7 - Freeman's license is cancelled
- Jan. 21 - Freeman's lawsuit is filed, represented by lawyer Howard Marks and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
- June 25 - Plaintiff's Response to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss
- June 27 - Orange County Circuit Judge Ted Coleman denies a motion by the state to dismiss Freeman's lawsuit
- May 27–29 - Freeman vs DMV trial takes place in Orlando residing under Circuit Court Judge Janet C. Thorpe
- June 6 - Janet C. Thorpe rules against Freeman
- July 3- Sultaana Freeman appeals
- Oct 31- Freeman files Appellate briefs; awaiting a response from Defendant by the end of the year
- June 9 - Appellate Court Oral arguments
In 2002, Freeman filed a religious discrimination lawsuit against Florida when the state's Department of Highway Safety suspended her license when she refused to be re-photographed without her veil. Freeman's legal license was suspended without change in policy or law following the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Freeman's lawsuit argued that her religious beliefs required her to wear a veil "in front of strangers and unrelated males". It also stated that other states allowed photo-free licenses for religious reasons. Judge Janet C. Thorpe denied her lawsuit that year, and a state appeals court later upheld her decision. Freeman has reportedly continued her appeal.
- Unveiling The Florida License Litigator
- The Case of Sultaana Freeman
- Court TV coverage
- Sultaana Freeman vs the Florida DMV, pro-Freeman site
- Freeman's Brief to the Florida Appellate court
- Opinion of the Fifth District Court of Appeal
- Statement of Sultaana LaKiana Myke Freeman
- Opening Statement by Howard Marks for the Plaintiff