Why Florida Is Threatening To Cancel The Drivers Licenses Of This Same-Sex Couple


Daniel and Scott Wall-Desousa speaking with WFTV's Jorge Estevez.

The state of Florida has threatened a same-sex couple with canceling their driver’s licenses, simply because they got married in another state and changed their name.

Changing a name through marriage requires changing it both through the federal government (obtaining a new Social Security card) and through the state (obtaining a new driver’s license or other state ID). Scott and Daniel Wall-Desousa married in New York City and obtained new Social Security cards recognizing their now-hyphenated surname. When they returned home to Florida, obtaining their state driver’s license was a different struggle, because Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage means that the state can’t recognize their marriage license, which is the source of their name change.

First, they had to undergo a sort of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” procedure. Daniel took his new documents to the Brevard County DMV to change his license, and it was “no hassle.” But then Scott went to a different office and was told that his license was not recognized. After months of back-and-forth exchanges, he eventually went to a third different office in Orlando, where his name was changed with no problem.

The DMV seemed to suggest to Scott that there had been “changes in our policy,” but the DMV would not confirm such a change to WFTV, which has been reporting on this story. After the original report, however, the Wall-Desousas experienced a new hurdle.

The Florida Department of Motor Vehicles sent the couple a letter — addressed to both of them using their new hyphenated married name — telling them that their driving privileges will be “canceled indefinitely as of November 22.” They feel that they’re being targeted for breaking the DMV’s apparent “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy by telling reporters how complicated it was to get their licenses in the first place.

They are now contemplating filing a suit against the state. According to Scott Wall-Desousa, the letter suggests that “it is a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy and that is offensive. It didn’t work once and it is not going to work again.” They have since already changed their voter IDs and work badges as well, noting that all of their work benefits are also now tied to their new names.

(HT: The New Civil Rights Movement.)