Same Sex Married Name Change: What Rules Apply Where

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The Supreme Court’s decision to not hear state appeals on same sex marriages will result in the legalization of that practice in eleven more states across the U.S.  This ruling caused five states to immediately legalize same sex marriage; they include: Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.  Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina and Wyoming are overseen by appellate courts and must abide by their appeals court rulings, so they will also have to lift their bans on same sex marriage as well. This means that same sex couples in 30 states can marry in their home state and receive all of the legal benefits of marriage, including married name change.

Prior to the legalization of same-sex marriage, gay spouses were not issued a marriage license or marriage certificate; so they were not able to use the married name change process to change their names.  They instead had to petition the court system for a legal name change order and follow the legal name change process, which is both lengthy and expensive.  Couples had to file numerous forms, be fingerprinted and run ads announcing the intended name change in local newspapers…and this would only get them the name change order that is the legal document allowing them to file for their name change with government agencies.

Now, if a gay couple decides to marry in one of the 30 states that recognize their right to wed they will be issued a certified marriage certificate.  That certificate can be used to file for a name change with the Social Security Administration, State Department (for a U.S. passport), the IRS, the United States Postal Service, as well as with state level offices such as the Motor Vehicle Administration and Voter Registration offices.  While couples residing in states that have newly legalized same sex marriage may unfortunately meet resistance from office clerks, they can be confident that they have the legal right to change their names and enjoy newlywed life together.

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