Gender And The Marriage Name-Change

What happens when a man adopts his wife’s last name upon marriage? A boatload of trouble, apparently. A Florida man legally changed his name in order to take his wife’s last name, doing all the necessary paperwork to get a new passport, Social Security card, and so on. However, after receiving a new driver’s license, the Florida DMV accused him of fraud. His license was suspended, and only just now was the suspension lifted.

Only a handful of states have gender-neutral marital name-change laws, which has potential ramifications for marriages that are not just between a man and a woman, or, as in the Florida case, marriages where a man is not attached to his own last name and wants to take his wife’s name.

I hope to see these laws reconsidered. I’m not a fan of the last-name-taking tradition, given that it reflects a history where women were their husbands’ property, but I recognize that others have their reasons for wanting to share a family name. Ideally anyone who wants to – regardless of gender or sexual orientation – should be able to share a name!

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About Jeana


Jeana Jorgensen, PhD recently completed her doctoral degree in folklore and gender studies at Indiana University. She studies fairy tales and other narratives, dance, body art, feminist theory, digital humanities, and gender identity.