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Dept. of Safety Relents on Name Changes

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(Nesbit, MS) What’s in a name?

Apparently a lot if you believe in tradition.

In the interest of equality, Mississippi has allowed men to take their wife’s name when they marry, and change it with just a marriage certificate.

But one agency has been a notable holdout.

Lots of women change their last name when they marry, and all it takes is a marriage certificate.

But Mississippi law says “him or her” when it comes to name change procedures and it was widely accepted, except at driver license offices, until now.

It comes after an ACLU complaint to Mississippi’s Department of Public Safety in which a Pascagoula man was turned down when he showed up for a driver’s license with marriage license in hand and wanted to use his wife’s last name.

The idea got a lot of reaction from people we talked to ”I think it’d be quite interesting to come to that conclusion,” said Karen Bennett of Southaven.

Even those who prefer tradition, where a wife takes her husband’s name say they might consider doing it.

”If I met a woman I wanted to marry and she pressed the issue, and I loved her that much, yeah, I’d go with her last name,” said James Dortch of Holly Springs.

After all, the Social Security Administration accepts such documentation and allowed the man to take his wife’s name.

But some people say they’ll never accept the idea.

”I think that’s stupid.” “Why?” “Because I think it needs to be like a traditional marriage like it has been,” said Joe Bennett.

Under threat of a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union, the Department of Safety relented and sent out word this week, to make the change.

The ACLU says it’s glad to know the Department of Safety has changed its procedure, but the State legal director says she’d still like to see it in writing.