In South Florida, one man’s romantic gesture to his wife has turned into a legal battle with the DMV and a moment to reflect on traditional gender roles. According to Yahoo, newlywed Lazaro Sopena opted to change his name to reflect his wife Hanh Dinh’s surname, in a reversal of traditional roles. He told Yahoo, “It was an act of love. I have no particular emotional ties to my last name.” After obtaining a new passport, Social Security card and changing his bank account information to reflect the name change, Lazaro Dinh set out to obtain a new driver’s license.
At the DMV, he presented his marriage license and the $20 fee required of women if they adopt their husband’s name post-nuptials. Unfortunately for Lazaro Dinh, a husband adopting his wife’s name is not that easily done in Florida.
A year after obtaining his new license, Yahoo reported he “received a letter from Florida’s DMV last December accusing him of ‘obtaining a driving license by fraud.” A call to the state DMV office in Tallahassee revealed that in order for him to change his name legally, he had to go to court — a lengthy process that requires a $400 filing fee. Dinh explained that the name change was due to marriage. But the Florida DMV told him “that only works for women.”
Dinh’s license has since been suspended for fraud, and he’s been forced to rely on rides from friends and his wife to get to work.
Allow me to interject here: but seriously?! This is my WTF moment of the day.
“Apparently the state of Florida clings to the outdated notion that treats women as an extension of a man,” said Dinh’s lawyer, Spencer Kuvin. But Florida is not alone. Only nine states have “gender neutral” laws pertaining to marriage surname changes; they are California, New York, Hawaii, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Oregon, Iowa, Georgia and North Dakota. Where are you, 41 other states? Somewhere in the Middle Ages? Pre-’60s at the very least?
We live in a world where same-sex nuptials are rapidly becoming a norm, and yet state laws are holding onto some of the most traditional interpretations of marriage. At its most extreme, this reflects the outdated view that a woman is a man’s property after they’ve exchanged wedding vows and that’s why she’s taking his name.
Of course, some women are thrilled to take their man’s last name. Maybe it has a better ring to it, or it’s a traditional aspect of marriage that they’ve looked forward to ever since doodling “Mrs. DiCaprio” on their notebooks. More and more women, however, are opting to keep their own surnames, and while it’s not the norm (yet), husbands are choosing to take their wives’ names. The fee and documentation requirements for changing your name after getting married should be the same, regardless of gender.
Contact the author of this post at Sarah.Gray@TheFrisky.com.
Thank you commenter @Applescruffs for the link!