All is Fraud with Love in Florida

Changing your last name after marriage is something women have been doing for hundreds of years – this is an accepted and legal process for those women that choose to do this in all 50 states. Now that gay marriage is legal in some states, men are choosing to change their last name when they get married. Nine states allow men to change their name upon marriage: California, New York, Hawaii, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Oregon, Iowa, Georgia and North Dakota.

Lazaro Sopena recently got married where he lives in Florida. Lazaro opted to take his wife’s last name upon marriage to help his wife’s family carry on their family name. “It was an act of love. I have no particular emotional ties to my last name.” Lazaro Sopena changed his name to Lazaro Dinh on his social security card, passport, bank account and credit cards. This is where things get a little unnecessarily complicated. He then went to the Department of Motor Vehicles in Florida to change his license. He was issued a new license after presenting his marriage certificate, just like women have been doing without a problem, at his local DMV and paying the $20 fee. “It was easy. When the government issues you a new passport you figure you’re fine.”

A little over a year later, he received a letter from Florida’s DMV “accusing him of ‘obtaining a driving license by fraud,” and advising him that his license would be suspended at the end of the month. Ironically, it was addressed to Lazaro Dinh.”

He spoke to the DMV and was told he needed to change his name legally through the court system which would cost $400 in filing fees and would take several months. When he told them that he was changing it because he got married, someone told him “that only works for women”.

Lazaro’s lawyer, Spencer Kuvin said, “Apparently the state of Florida clings to the out-dated notion that treats women as an extension of a man. While it was unusual for a man to seek to be considered an extension on his wife, Dinh’s case raised important issues for gay marriage… If Lazaro isn’t allowed to change his name, what is going to happen when a gay couple seeks a name change?”

Dinh appealed to the RMV, but as of mid-January his license was suspended for fraud. He is appealing, but can’t drive. “I don’t understand. I’m being treated like a highway criminal,” said Dinh, who said he has a perfect driving record and now is struggling to carry out his job, begging his wife and friends for rides.”

This is a really big deal and one that I am sure will continue to be addressed, especially as gay marriage becomes legal in more and more states. Maybe I’m naive, maybe it’s that I live in Massachusetts, maybe it’s the fact that I’m gay, but why is this such a big deal? Why do people have to grasp onto antiquated laws and traditions? Why does it take so long to change such stupid laws/policies? What are people so scared of? What’s your problem Florida?

Image via Yahoo

Filed Under