If a woman changes her name after marriage, it’s a sign of her love and enduring commitment. (Aw…) If a man does it, he’s a fraud who’s trying to get one over on the state, and such offenses will not stand!
After Lazaro Sopena and Hanh Dinh got married, Sopena decided to change his name to Lazaro Dinh to honor his wife’s Vietnamese family surname.
“It was an act of love. I have no particular emotional ties to my last name,” Dinh (ne Sopena) told Reuters.
Dinh obtained a new passport and Social Security card, and changed his bank account and credit cards before going to the DMV to get a new driver’s license.
That’s when things got ridiculous.
More than a year later, he received a letter from Florida’s DMV accusing him of “obtaining a driver’s license by fraud,” and letting him know that his license would soon be suspended.
It turns out that the state of Florida, along with 40 other states in the U.S., lacks any kind of a streamlined system to let a man give up his father’s name to cleave to and become one with his new wife (’cause, I mean, what real man would want to, amiright?). Outside of California, New York, Hawaii, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Oregon, Iowa, Georgia, and North Dakota, he might as well be changing it to reflect his jersey number or his favorite dinosaur. That also means six of the states that recognize gay marriage still require lengthy and pricey legal processes for new husbands to take each other’s name.
The suspension was upheld in court on January 14 after Dinh produced his marriage certificate and new U.S. passport. But on Tuesday, after nearly a month riding shotgun, the Florida DMV gave him his license back, saying that it had been suspended by mistake, that “either a man or a woman can change their name” on a driver’s license, and that the DMV staff would receive training to this effect. No word on whether the judge who upheld Dinh’s suspension would receive similar training.
The takeaway: Society isn’t interested in helping you buck traditional gender roles. The missus is going to be subordinate whether she and he want it or not. Florida is a screwy state, but also not the only screwy state or the screwiest state. The English language currently lacks a male equivalent for maiden name. And if you’re going to have to jump through those name-changing hoops anyway, you might as well change both of your names to Optimus Prime.)
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