We’ve discussed this here a couple of times, but today the New York Times tackles the issue of the difficulties and expense in trying to change your name after a same-sex marriage.
Couples who live in states that don’t allow or recognize same-sex marriage or its equivalents (civil unions, for instance) generally can’t just rely on a marriage certificate as proof of a name change and instead have to go through the in-court name change process. This means they will have to pay a $100 to $400 fee to file a petition at court, publish a notice in a local newspaper and get a court order officially changing their name and that they can use to change everything else (just one more area where being gay can cost you more). Even more, couples who live in states that do allow or recognize same-sex marriage and civil unions often in practice don’t have it that much easier. While changing a name on a driver’s license can be done without a problem in such states, changing federal documentation can be trickier.
Since the federal government doesn’t recognize the right to same-sex marriage, even if you get married in a state that allows it, whether you can get the name change processed by Social Security or the passport office merely with the marriage certificate and required forms currently tends “to be hit and miss,” said Emily Doskow, an attorney in California who specializes in same-sex and transgender family issues and writes about marriage and divorce issues for the legal information publisher Nolo. “It depends on what local office you are going to, what the opinion is at the moment and whether you get a staff person who cares or doesn’t care,” she said.
The above article doesn’t address the issue of why gay people might wish to assume a new married name, which I think is far more interesting.