PennDOT Refuses To Change Two Legally Married Couples Last Names On Drivers’ Licenses

Pennsylvania’s refusal to recognize the marriages of gay and lesbian couples has resulted in the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) denying at least two legally married couples name changes on their drivers’ licenses. Jeannie Nally had already successfully changed her last name on her bank and Social Security card but was turned away by PennDOT when she presented her New York marriage license in an attempt to change her last name on her drivers licence. Jeannie wasn’t asking Pennsylvania to recognize her marriage, only for a state ID that would match both her federal documents and her bank card. PennDOT offered a completely unworkable solution: Jeannie could present a voter ID or passport in order to change her name, two documents that she cannot update without first changing her state ID. The Defense of Marriage Act allows states to not recognize same-sex marriage licenses issued by other states, but not only does a name change not amount to recognition, it is in the government’s clear interest to have citizens’ names be consistently recognized.

Alex Brown