what's in a name

The Federal Government Recognized Amy Stabe’s Marital Name Change. But Not South Dakota

Amy and Ashley Stabe, who got married in Iowa in October, are trying to get their home state of South Dakota to grant a name change. But thanks to a constitutional amendment there banning recognition of gay unions, the Sioux Falls women have been denied by the Department of Public Safety. So with the help of the ACLU, they’re petitioning Minnehaha County to grant them the name change. (Another woman in Union County has filed a similar petition.) Naturally the religious conservatives are involved: “Everyone did their job,” says Chris Hupke, the executive director of the South Dakota Family Policy Council. “The system worked [by denying them a name change].” Interestingly, their efforts would’ve been less complicated only a year ago, back before changing your name on a driver’s license in the state didn’t require legal documentation of a name change; last year the rules switched. The department’s new regulations explicitly state same-sex marriage certificates are not valid documentation. How about a federal Social Security card, with Amy’s new last name on it? Not good enough either, apparently. So while everyone else, including her credit card companies, treat her as “Amy Stabe,” South Dakota still calls her “Amy Muston,” which doesn’t go over well when she tries to do things like apply for a car loan. I’m pretty sure we’re staring a violation of the equal protection clause right in the face.

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