Michigan State Employees Profiling, Refusing Service To Couples “They Believe” Are Gay

14011965-largeJesse is known as Jesse Melot to a number of entities including the federal government, his bank, and his insurance provider, among others. He and his partner Derek Melot decided to take their long-term relationship to the next level by getting legally hitched in New York last October, after which Jesse decided to take his partner’s surname as a symbol of their commitment.

“I love him, and I think that’s the best gift you can give someone,” Jesse told MLive. “This is for real. I love you. I want to take your last name.”

With his name legally changed in the eyes of most, Jesse took his marriage certificate to his local Secretary of State branch office in order to obtain a driver’s license with his new last name. That’s where, according to Jesse, he was unjustly profiled as a gay man by branch workers who assumed he was in a same-sex relationship.

Under any other circumstance, married people can legally change the name on their driver’s license by simply presenting their official marriage certificate, which by the way, does not indicate the gender of parties involved. Employees at two separate branch offices denied Jesse a new driver’s license simply because his partner’s first name indicated that the marriage was between two men.

They are “allowed” to do this (ugh) because a 2004 voter-approved constitutional amendment bans same-sex marriage in the state of Michigan. Couples in the state have experienced stress related to the issue since SCOTUS overturned DOMA this summer—they’ve been living in a “legal limbo” ever since.

But this isn’t a matter of the legality of same-sex marriage in Michigan, says Jesse. It’s a matter of being discriminated against on superficial grounds. “It’s utter frustration,” he said. “If I had been a woman going to change my last name, it wouldn’t have been an issue. They’re profiling at the counter. My certificate doesn’t say ‘same-sex.’ It just says marriage. But they see the names, and they’re discriminating against me.”

Department spokesman Fred Woodhams has since claimed branch workers are not directed to be “on the lookout” for gay couples, but have the right to refuse service based on “anything that would lead the staff person to believe it is a same-sex marriage.”

“I wasn’t asking them to recognize my marriage,” Jesse said. “I was asking them to recognize a legally-binding document, period. I’m not trying to circumvent the system to get the state to recognize my marriage. All I’m looking for is my … license.”

We recommend just sitting tight, Jesse. You’ll have equal rights when Michigan gets slapped in the face next month.

[Photo: MLive]

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  • Scribe38

    Yeah Michigan sucks for gay rights. Praying the federal judge helps us out this year. May 5, me and my partner are getting married at Niagara Falls. It would be nice if my home state recognized it. Almost 20 years with the same guy and I have to travel out of the state to marry who I love. SMH

  • mcflyer54

    @RobinJoyceyvy: Your friend’s uncle is a lying cheating slime ball and now has convinced you to try and use this website to direct people to his fraudulent con. Get a life RobinJoyceyvy.

  • DonW

    @mcflyer54: I wish Queerty would change the commenting system to foil these robo-posts. They are getting really annoying.

  • srm85

    This article is poorly written and pretty stupid. Obviously, a state that doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage wouldn’t let you change your last name based on a document that is invalid within that state. And the fact that the employees assume, correctly, that it was most likely a same-sex marriage does not mean they are trying to discriminate against men as opposed to new wives. Since states have power over marriage, and Michigan does not recognize gay marriage, why would you think they would let you change your name without doing it legally within Michigan in the first place?

    I am gay, and I am sympathetic toward people who have to deal with states that have withheld rights, and are behind in the times, but all I want to say after reading this article is “Duh”. I am glad that Jesse Melot was able to go down to the state’s offices and obtain exactly the result he expected while trying to make himself a gay hero. A duh

  • Ida G. Carlson

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  • tricky ricky

    this article IS poorly written and rather stupid. unfairly profiled? the workers at the license branch did their jobs under the current constitution and laws of the state of Michigan. I ought to know, I live in Michigan. he knew damn well they were not going to go along with his scheme before he went in to the secretary of state office. this is a farce Jesse created all by his little self. he knew it would happen in advance. He should know full well there is a current law suit coming up to challenging the constitutional amendment. He’s just out to get some publicity and have a little pity party for himself.

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