A metro Atlanta lesbian couple legally married in Boston is in a fight with the Georgia DMV to have their names changed on their driver's licenses, but the state is putting up a big red stop sign.
On Thursday, Shakira Tucker and Danielle McCollum say they will go to the Sandy Springs DMV office on Rosewell Road to return Shakira's license after receiving a letter that Tucker's name change to combine her and her wife's last names was made illegally. They also plan to deliver a petition of 10,000 signatures asking the Georgia DMV to change its rules gathered using the change.org website.
Tucker was able to get the name on her drivers license changed last month using her marriage license when she went to the DMV. But when her wife, McCollum, went to the same DMV at a different date to ask for the same name change and using the same marriage license, her request was denied.
This prompted McCollum to start the petition on change.org to demand the Georgia DMV change its policies. More than 10,000 from across the U.S. and even the world signed on to the petition.
The Sept. 27 letter to Tucker from the Department of Driver Services stated in part, "The Department of Drivers Services (DDS) has identified an issue with the driver's license issued to you on Aug. 15, 2013 that negatively impacts the validity of this credential. The DDS is prohibited from recognizing or accepting documents related to a same-sex marriage, civil union, or divorce therefrom granted from another state" pursuant to the Georgia constitution.
In Georgia, a state constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2004 prohibits the recognition of legal same-sex marriages outside of Georgia, including the use of any documentation of that marriage for legal purposes.
"The DMV can't seem to make up their minds as to how they'll treat couples like Shakira and me. First, they let Shakira change her name and then they reject my request," McCollum said in a press release from change.org.
"Now, they're taking her license back and inflicting more pain upon our family," said McCollum. "We can change our names on passports, social security ID cards, and credit cards, and can even file joint tax returns. It just doesn’t make sense that we can do all these things, but we can’t have the same last name on our driver’s licenses."
Thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act, legally married couples are allowed to file federal tax returns and change their names on federal documents, such as passports.
However, because of Georgia's anti-gay constitutional amendment, the DOMA ruling has no impact on state laws, including changing names on legal documents.
Typically, LGBT people who want to change their name — for example to their spouse's name or to combine their name with their spouses — must pay about $280 to do so in their county's Superior Court as well as pay approximately $80 to announce the name change in a public outlet, such as the Fulton Daily Report newspaper. There can also be attorney's costs if necessary. Sometimes, however, a sympathetic DMV clerk will agree to change a name on a drivers license.
The DDS did point out that Tucker can use her passport to have her name legally changed on her driver's license.
McCollum told the GA Voice she and her wife should be able to have their names changed on their driver's licenses like any other couple.
"A heterosexual married couple can go to the DMV with the same exact documentation that I took and the DMV will gladly change their name on their licenses without issue," she said.
"We should be entitled to the same courtesy — fairness, respect and equal treatment. We should not have to pay to change our names when heterosexual couples can have it done for free," she said.
Photo: Shakira Tucker and Danielle McCollum want Georgia DMV offices to accept legal same-sex marriage licenses from other states as legal documentation for name changes on their licenses. Currently Georgia law doesn't allow this because of the anti-gay state constitutional amendment passed in 2004. (Courtesy photo)