Name Change after Same-Sex Marriage or Civil Union

Changing a name after a same-sex marriage typically involves going through a court process that legalizes the choice of a new last name. Filing a petition in court can cost several hundred dollars. In addition to filing the petition, the individual must publish a notice in a local newspaper for several weeks. In states that recognize this type of marital union, the process is typically easier and may be accomplished directly on the marriage license.

To Change Your Name after Same-Sex Marriage or Not to

Proponents exist on both sides of the name-change issue, especially within the gay and lesbian community. While changing your last name to that of your spouse in a same-sex marriage may be viewed as making a political statement, one that clearly indicates your sexual orientation, it may not get the attention that is desired. Traditionally, individuals with the same last name and gender are portrayed by society as being related by blood, as siblings or cousins. However, this can provide proof of family status, a necessary aspect for emergency room visits or hospital stays.

Gay and lesbian couples considering changing their last names face some of the same discord that heterosexual couples experience. Society continues to support traditional views regarding name changes after marriage with the majority leaning toward the wife taking the last name of the husband. Men who choose to take the last name of their spouse are seen as being submissive by traditionalists. This thought process holds true even when a gay marriage is involved with the individual who chooses the spouse’s name being portrayed as the less independent of the two spouses.

Since it is considered traditional to change a last name during the marriage process, some gay and lesbian couples want to participate in this aspect. When selecting the last name, they may choose the name of the family that the couple feels closer to. A name change may be resisted due to the desire to continue the couple’s professional identity.

The Emotional Aspect of Name Change

For some gay and lesbian couples, incorporating a name change after marriage involves the emotional issues of family identification, commitment, and love. Choosing to take the name of your spouse clearly indicates love and commitment.

Changing name with the Social Security Administration after Same-Sex Marriage or Civil Union

Obtaining a Social Security card with a newly established last name after a same-sex or civil union marriage can be extremely difficult, even if the state that you live in currently recognizes this type of union. Federal law has not yet made the transition and does not recognize same-sex marriages. Whether or not a new card is issued often depends on who is manning the desk on any given day.

California State Law and Name Change after Same-Sex Marriage or Civil Union

After the passage of the Name Equality Act of 2007 in California, granting men the right to choose the last name of their wife on the marriage license, a subsequent lawsuit created a new state law that guaranteed the rights of registered domestic partners to pick the last name of either spouse on both a marriage and driver’s license.

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