Man accused of fraud for taking wife’s name

After Lazaro Sopena and Hanh Dinh got married, Sopena decided to change his name to Lazaro Dinh to honor his wife’s Vietnamese family surname.

“It was an act of love. I have no particular emotional ties to my last name,” Dinh (né Sopena) told Reuters.

Dinh obtained a new passport and Social Security card, and changed his bank account and credit cards before going to the DMV to get a new driver’s license.

That’s when things got ridiculous.

More than a year later, he received a letter from Florida’s DMV accusing him of “obtaining a driving license by fraud,” and letting him know his license would soon be suspended.

Why? Because the state of Florida thinks that only women should change their last names after marriage.

Dinh called the DMV office in Tallahassee to correct what he thought was a mistake, and was told he had to go to court first in order to change his name legally. When he explained he was changing his name because he got married, he was told “that only works for women,” he told Reuters.

It looks to me like Florida doesn’t actually ban men from taking their wives names– anyone can change their name, after all. But it requires a much more laborious procedure than the one that women have access to via marriage. For more, go here.

3 thoughts on “Man accused of fraud for taking wife’s name

  1. On the contrary, where I am women’s names are not assumed to have changed at all when they are married and they, too, have to go through the more laborious procedure to change their names. I think this is as it should be.

  2. Unless there’s something I’m missing, I’m with kuri. The default should be to assume that every person’s name remains the same before and after marriage. There’s where the proper gender neutrality is located. Require everyone to file the proper paperwork.

  3. In response to Matt and kuri, there’s an argument to be made that the “filing the proper properwork” to change one’s name after taking a partner could still be an expedited process relative to other reasons for a formal identity change–off the top of my head, for instance, in supporting family as a fundamental unit and something to publicly be encouraged. Secondly, it’s very, very common.

    Basically, we can and should get to proper gender neutrality, but there’s no reason it has to be hard at all.

    Also, I think Dinh is not the first case I have heard–I believe that somewhere else in the States (wish I could remember the particulars better, but it was about a year ago that I read about it), a man who had taken his wife’s last name because he felt much closer to her family than his own had taken a case to court because of the unequal burden (both in time and money) he bore as a married man rather than woman.

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