Publishing the banns

Some friends sent me this article today, in which a man has successfully sued for the right to take his wife’s last name as his own.

I am rather nonplussed by this. I had no idea it was… well, problematic.

It sounds as though he had to go through the paperwork, court appearance, and publishing of the intent to change one’s name in the paper (as well as the fee) that it costs any old regular person to change his or her name for a non-marriage reason. I went through this about 16 years ago, and the process sounds familiar. (I remember with fond amusement publishing my name in the newspaper, in a little form announcement alongside rather shady 1-inch-square framed advertisements for cures for personal ailments. It ran once a week for four consecutive weeks. I felt rather like a turn-of-the-20th century woman, entering the newspaper office with my advertisement in hand. All I needed was a small beaded handbag and a big Gibson Girl hat. I felt like it was the modern-day equivalent of publishing the banns.)

I lift my hat to this couple in L.A. It never occurred to me that men couldn’t change their names with relative ease at marriage, and I hope the precedent helps others who might more easily be turned from the decision to take the distaff name.

When we married, TMoTH took on my last name. For personal reasons I had changed my last name to one that was more meaningful to me, and he supported me in this. We wanted one single family name. Hence, he took mine as his own. When it came time to file the paperwork afterward for his new Social Security card, etc., he merely showed a copy of our marriage license and told his story. A few surprised looks later, he was done for the most part. He did have to file a copy of his name change in the newspaper, but the courthouse never said he had to do anything more, if I remember correctly. This was 10 years ago, in San Diego County, and we still live here.

I’m pretty sure that if the law was after him for doing it wrong, they’d have caught him by now. I mean, they know his name.