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Full faith and credit and gay cooties

Same sex couple gets married out of state. They come to TN. One of them heads to the DMV to get her last name changed*. No problem. They give her the license. Then:

But after she walked out of the building, she says one of the DMV staff members came out to find her. Turpin was already in her car.

Turpin says the lady asked her to return her driver’s license. “She said I had to give that license back. She said they don’t recognize same sex marriages in the state of Tennessee.”

Turpin says when she refused to return her license, state troopers were called. Eventually her license was taken and she was given one with her former name on it.

I’m thinking maybe the employee should have reached that conclusion before issuing the license?

* How do you decide whose name you’re keeping? Just curious. The woman going to the DMV is referred to as a wife. How do you decide that too?

30 Responses to “Full faith and credit and gay cooties”

  1. Yu-Ain Gonnano Says:

    Last time I checked you could change your name (first or last) for any damn reason you wanted. Why you are changing your name is completely irrelevent.

  2. SayUncle Says:

    you are correct. but at a reasonable legal expense, unless you get married. then it’s a matter of showing a marriage license.

  3. Tina Says:

    I can’t really speak for all gays and lesbians, but I’ll give it a shot.

    Gay and lesbian couples just come to a decision on these matters. My partner and I have not changed our names and we won’t in the future. She’s the last of her family name (she has no brothers) and wants her name to continue. I’m just attached to my name and have no desire to change it. We discussed these issues, and decided to just keep our names as they are.

    However, many of our lesbian friends have either decided to hyphenate their last names or one partner changes her name to the other’s last name. I only know one gay couple that have hyphenated their names, but the rest I know have just kept their last names.

    With regards to the wife/husband issue…we both just say what’s comfortable to us, and we really didn’t discuss it. We do not say wife in reference to the other. I say partner and so does she, even though it feels a bit like a country dance thing to me. ūüôĀ I’m pretty traditional, so I’m just not comfortable with calling her my wife when she’s just not.

    And I completely agree with Yu-Ain. Unless you’re trying to cover up a history of criminality, it’s not the state’s frikin’ business what you call yourself. Last time I checked it was not illegal to change your name.

    Just my two cents….

  4. Jake Says:

    See, it’s those “special” rights we want.

    Last time I checked you could change your name (first or last) for any damn reason you wanted. Why you are changing your name is completely irrelevent.

    It’s a completely different procedure, and much more complex. To do a name change not connected to marriage requires filing an application with the state courts (complete with the required fees) and (in some states) actually appearing in front of a judge to argue why you should be allowed to change your name. Some states may restrict name changes to those who meet certain criteria.

    With marriage, it’s automatic – you just have to fill out a couple of forms and provide a copy of the marriage license/certificate. Any fees are minimal and usually connected with printing/filing costs.

    This is just one example of why gays want marriage recognized in all states – even if a state won’t allow gay marriage itself.

  5. Skip Says:

    Jake, the interesting thing here is that there’s already an extensive court record on how to handle marriages that are legal in one state, but not in another. There have been hundreds of cases that have come up over the years, so the precedents are well established. Now sure, those cases came up in the context of cousin marriage, non-blood-relation marriage, etc., but there’s no reason at all that they shouldn’t apply to gay marriage as well. And those precedents basically say that states aren’t required to recognize marriages from out of state that are illegal in their own territory.

    So barring the Supreme Court throwing out hundreds of precedents over the last hundred and fifty years or so, you’re pretty much going to have to get it legalized in all 50 states.

  6. Tam Says:

    And this is any of the government’s business how again, exactly?

  7. Yu-Ain Gonnano Says:

    With marriage, itís automatic…

    Except for the fees, blood tests, etc in obtaining the marriage cert to begin with.

    Point taken that you only have to do it once. But why didn’t the woman change her name in the state she was married in prior to moving?

  8. Jake Says:

    Except for the fees, blood tests, etc in obtaining the marriage cert to begin with.

    Which gays have to do in addition to everything else.

    But why didnít the woman change her name in the state she was married in prior to moving?

    I don’t think they moved. It looks like they’re TN residents, and they just got married in DC. If that’s the case, then she would have to do it in TN.

    Also, the Social Security office did accept the marriage certificate, so she now has two names: one name federally, and one according to the state. I’m sure that’s going to cause problems, especially when she files taxes.

  9. Chris from AK Says:

    Even if the marriage isn’t recognized by TN, the name change is done federally… I didn’t know that states could not recognize federal name changes regardless of the reason.

    Actually, did she even mention the reason? Are you required to? If not, I’d’ve just shown my new social security card and said “dudes, change it.”

  10. SPQR Says:

    Notice that nothing stops the person from changing their name. They just have to do it the way that Tennessee prescribes.

    I view this as nothing but a temper-tantrum.

  11. Pol Mordreth Says:

    Ya know whats really crazy about all this? They went to DC to get the governments permission to get married, when they could have gotten married here in TN with none of the hassle.

    Seriously, why would anyone in their right mind voluntarily involve the gov in their lives when they didn’t have to?

    Oh, and Jake? Gays don’t have to get a marriage license to get married here in TN. All you need is your partner and willing clergy. I’ve performed 3 same-sex marriages here since I moved here in 2004.

    Regards,
    Pol

  12. Jake Says:

    Gays donít have to get a marriage license to get married here in TN. All you need is your partner and willing clergy.

    And how many of the legal benefits that come with .gov recognition of marriage does anyone get automatically without a marriage license?

    Seriously, why would anyone in their right mind voluntarily involve the gov in their lives when they didnít have to?

    There are 1,138 reasons why. Most of which gays are denied just for being gay.

    Notice that nothing stops the person from changing their name. They just have to do it the way that Tennessee prescribes.

    Notice that it’s much more difficult, expensive, and uncertain for gays. Notice that it’s all but automatic for straight couples, while gays have multiple extra hoops to jump through.

    I view this as nothing but a temper-tantrum.

    It’s about the right to equal treatment under the law. If that’s a temper-tantrum to you, then maybe you need to re-evaluate your idea of “equal.”

  13. ben Says:

    Most of which gays are denied just for being gay.

    Not technically true. As a man, I can legally marry a woman. A gay man can do the same, and hence is not denied the same right “just for being gay.” Now if you rephrase the statement as “I can legally marry the person of my choice,” that changes things. Lots of people are denied this “right” however, and many not “just because they are gay.”

    Honestly, I’m with Elton John on gay marriage. In fact, I’ll go one better in that I don’t think the government should have anything to do with “marriage.” A government recognized “marriage” should just be a civil partnership, for everyone, gay or straight.

  14. Jake Says:

    In fact, Iíll go one better in that I donít think the government should have anything to do with ďmarriage.Ē A government recognized ďmarriageĒ should just be a civil partnership, for everyone, gay or straight.

    On that at least, I can agree wholeheartedly.

  15. anonymous Says:

    What, no trendy hyphenated name?

  16. Stormy Dragon Says:

    One argument we often hear is that we don’t need same-sex marriage or civil unions because if they really wanted to, they could get all the benefits through other legal means if they just weren’t so damn lazy.

    This ignores the reality (as seen here) that in many parts of the country, government officials will blatantly ignore the law if homosexuals are seen as benefitting from it. Your name change will be denied because they don’t want you having the same last name as your partner., your will will be overturned in probate because they don’t want you leaving property to your partner, your medical directive or power of attourney will be ignored by hospitals because they don’t want to obey your partner, etc.

  17. Timmeehh Says:

    “The woman going to the DMV is referred to as a wife. How do you decide that too?”

    The one who earns the most is the husband, as usual.

  18. Jake Says:

    This ignores the reality (as seen here) that in many parts of the country, government officials will blatantly ignore the law if homosexuals are seen as benefitting from it. Your name change will be denied because they donít want you having the same last name as your partner., your will will be overturned in probate because they donít want you leaving property to your partner, your medical directive or power of attourney will be ignored by hospitals because they donít want to obey your partner, etc.

    And remember this egregious example of that? Not only were their expressed wishes and advance legal arrangements ignored, their lives were destroyed.

    Separate is not equal.

  19. ketcom Says:

    Here in California, I’ve known two heterosexual couples where the man has taken the wife’s last name simply because they liked her last name better than his.

  20. John Smith Says:

    For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. There is a consequence to playing games. It would be like for example; say I go to california and get a medical weed prescription. Then I go to north carolina with my weed and get arrested for drug possession. Do you think my cali prescription for a controlled substance is worth the paper it is printed on in nc? The results are the same. If you are fast and loose, playing the laws of one state off another you will get burned. The same is true for gun carry. If I were say an ohio resident and I traveled to nc with my pistol and decided that I wanted to open carry what would happen to me. Well since in Nc you have to possess a permit just to purchase and own a pistol while ohio does not; do you think it would be all right for me to carry in nc simply because open carry is somewhat legal if the cops are in a good mood? NOT LIKELY. I try to obey the laws no matter how stupid or inappropriate I feel they are. I have no sorrow for them because they tried to end run the system. They played with fire and got burned.

  21. Zendo Deb Says:

    “How do you decide whose name youíre keeping? Just curious. The woman going to the DMV is referred to as a wife. How do you decide that too?”

    How do straight women decide 1) to take their husband’s name, 2) to keep their own name, 3) to take a hyphenated name? Personal preference.

    Or – Why do you give a damn what people decide to do?

    Or to put it more bluntly – it isn’t any of your G. Dame business how other people decide these things.

  22. SayUncle Says:

    straight women in most cases decide based on a tradition. I asked out of curiosity not that i necessarily give a damn. Sorry you have a bug up your ass about it.

  23. Zendo Deb Says:

    What straight folks do is just fine. What gay folks do requires questions (wise-ass-questions) and explanations.

    So straight women don’t think about it and just go with tradition, while gay women have to think about it. Is that an insult to straight women?

  24. Zendo Deb Says:

    [Que soundtrack from “Fiddler on the Roof”] Tradition. Tra-di-tion. Tra! Di! Tion! …

    When I worked in industry, the phrase “but we’ve always done it that way” would have gotten you a slap on the side of the head – if that hadn’t been outlawed by corporate policies.

  25. Zendo Deb Says:

    Fiddler on the Roof, Tradition

  26. SayUncle Says:

    I didn’t say that what straight folks did was fine. Just that i understand where it came from. Not all straight folks follow that tradition and when they don’t, I ask why out of curiosity, as in the case of a couple of my hyphenated friends.

    I asked a question and if you don’t want to answer, fine it’s none of my business. But someone else did answer. I was merely curious if there was a social convention that folks deferred to.

    I don’t care about ‘always done it that way’. just curious why folks chose the way they did is all.

    For the record, I’m not all that traditional. I got married in a gay bar. To a woman. Because we liked the place.

  27. bob dole Says:

    We need to move to the system the UK uses for name changes. It is far, far more Libertarian than the system we use.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Name_change#England_and_Wales

  28. straightarrow Says:

    Wrong Uncle. You can change your name simply by saying it is something else. As long as there is no attempt to defraud or escape justice there is no requirement that you must have a court change it. However, due to all the complexities of modern living it is actually easier and more effective to do so through legal channels. It is not however, required. At least not in most states.

  29. SPQR Says:

    Jake, the couple is not entitled to be married in Tennessee. They knew this.

    Getting a drivers license name change is not a great blow for equal rights. Especially when she could change her name legally via Tennessee law.

    So I think my understanding of “equal” is just fine.

  30. Geodkyt Says:

    Jake,

    Legally, they would be just as married in Tennessee if they had a non-licensed service, as Pol pointed out he’s perofrmed three of.

    Since Tennessee doesn’t recognize gay marriages, whether perfomred out of state or not.

    KNOWING that Tennessee doesn’t recognize gay marriage (HINT: that would be why they went to DC to get married), getting upset AFTER THE FACT and BECAUSE that Tennessee still refuses to recognize it is a little weak.

    Just as Tennesee has the recognized authority to refuse to recognize OTHER out-of-state marriages that do not conform to Tennessee law, such as consanguinity, the people of Tennesee have the right to vote to refuse to recognize gay marriage. That precedent was set CENTURIES (literally) before anyone even considered gay marriage, so it’s not some special homophobic trick thought up at the last minute to “keep out teh gay cooties”.

    Thus, the problem is that if you want Tennessee to recognize your gay marriage, you need to get Tennessee voters to change Tennessee law, OR you must get a Gay Marriage Amendment passed that makes gay marriage a federal matter.

    (Frankly, I’m with Ben. “Marriage” is NOT a government issue — and I’m fine with tearing up my marriage license and replacing it with a “civil partnership” that conveys the same privleges. My wife and I were married before God. . . the WORDS on the top of a piece of paper issued by a bureaucrat didn’t marry us, nor would the loss of any specific words on that paper make us less married.)

    Zendo —

    The reason it is a REASONABLE question to ask how one decides the last name issue in a same-sex marriage is simple.

    Hetero couples can automatically fall back on tradition. We already know what the default setting is for most people in a Western European affiliated culture is. A few of us can apply other cultural patterns, including ones where the husband takes the wife’s last name.

    Gay couples have no such tradition, as the traditional patterns of marital name change revolve around people of two different genders, and the partner of a specific gender taking the name (or combining the names, usually in a set pattern) of teh partner of teh other gender.

Remember, I do this to entertain me, not you.

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