The Name Game: Yours or Ours, but not Mine

by Jodi Doff


Take My  Name, Please

So, you get married, and maybe you want to change your name to his. Or  join the ranks of the hyphen-ates. Maybe you chuck last names altogether and go all mononymous like Cher or Madonna. Whatever you decide, you’ve got that marriage license in your hot little hand as you start whipping through all those important papers changing your name: Passport. Social Security. Bank Account. Credit Cards. Driver’s License.

Whoa. Not so fast there, buddy.

Lazaro Sopena and Hanh Dinh got married in Florida, and out of respect for his wife’s Vietnamese heritage, Lazaro Sopena changed his name to Lazaro Dinh. He got his new passport, credit cards, etc. and then there was the Department of Motor Vehicles. The dreaded DMV.


Florida, where I can give you my heart, but not my name.

More than a year after the Florida DMV issued him a new license, the great state of Florida suspended Lazaro Dinh’s driver’s license on the grounds of fraud. Changing your name due to marriage, according to the Florida DMV ‘only works for women’.

In a bizarro universe kind of way, women in Florida have more choice in this instance than do men. We can keep the name we were born with, add another one on, or take a brand new name. Men? Not so much. Of  course, we all know this logic comes from the idea that no man would want to change his name to his wife’s. That’s crazy talk. I own her, she doesn’t own me. (insert chest thumping here).

“If Lazaro isn’t allowed to change his name, what is going to happen when a gay couple seeks a name change?” wondered Lazaro’s attorney. That’s not really an issue for Florida. Because in Florida there is no gay marriage, or same-sex legal unions of any kind. Apparently, there are no gays in Florida.

Note: Nine states allow a man to change his name upon marriage: California, New York, Hawaii, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Oregon, Iowa, Georgia and North Dakota.

UPDATE: Lazaro Dinh is back in the driver’s seat. “The suspension has been lifted. We’re doing training so everyone realizes it works both ways,” said a spokeswoman for the Florida DMV. 

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