Here’s yet another example of why marriage equality in every state matters. A woman who moved from California to Texas is being denied a driver’s license because she’s in a same-sex marriage and changed her name to match her wife’s. The state says they won’t issue a license without a court order.
After Connie Wilson married her partner of nine years in California last year, she took her wife’s last name, Wilson, which now appears on both her California driver’s license and her Social Security card, in addition to all of the couple’s financial and medical records.
This summer, the couple relocated to the Houston area with their three children for work. With her California driver’s license nearing expiration, Wilson took her documents to a DPS office in Katy last week to obtain a Texas driver’s license. When a DPS employee noticed that Wilson’s name didn’t match her birth certificate, she produced the couple’s California marriage license identifying her spouse as Aimee Wilson…
“She immediately told me, ‘You can’t use this to get your license. This doesn’t validate your last name. Do you have anything else?’” Wilson said. “She told me I would never get a license with my current name, that the name doesn’t belong to me.”
Texas has both a state statute and a constitutional amendment prohibiting recognition of same-sex marriages from other states. However, Wilson contends she isn’t asking DPS to recognize her marriage, but rather trying to obtain an accurate driver’s license reflecting her legal name according to the state of California and the U.S. government.
“I’ve been deprived the freedom to drive a vehicle once my current California driver’s license expires,” Wilson said. “I’m further being deprived the freedom to use air travel, make purchases that require a valid photo identification, seek medical attention for myself or my children, as well as other situations that would require proving who I am legally as an individual.”
In response to inquiries from the Observer, DPS confirmed that people moving to Texas from other states can’t obtain driver’s licenses listing their married names using same-sex marriage licenses.
“To receive a Texas Driver License or Identification Card reflecting a name change from a same-sex marriage, a court order is required,” a DPS spokesman said in a statement.
Among other things, Wilson said the pending expiration of her California license has threatened her family’s ability to close on a house in Texas. It could also jeopardize the couple’s ability to obtain disability benefits for one of their children, who has both autism and Down syndrome.
“I still can’t believe I’m being met with all the roadblocks that I am,” Wilson said. “For the first time in my life, I in a minuscule way know what it feels like for a person who is undocumented, how terrifying it must be to function in day-to-day life. It terrifies me—I’m a U.S. citizen—the fact that I can’t get something that I’ve had all my life, that I assume is my right. My right was taken away.”
True marriage equality, nationwide and federally mandated, can’t come soon enough.