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Old 01-12-2007, 09:14 AM   #1
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Man Sues For The Right To Take His Wife's Last Name

Yes indeed, why should that be made so difficult? Obviously he still has the right- he is apparently suing over how difficult it is, comparitively speaking. It does reflect an archaic notion of female subordination in the partnership (the fact that it is so difficult for a man to do it, not that a woman taking a man's last name is necessarily being subordinate of course).

How many men here would have any issue with taking a spouse's last name? If so, why?

By Martin Kasindorf, USA TODAY
LOS ANGELES — Michael Buday is petitioning a federal judge for the right to take Diana Bijon's last name in marriage as easily as she could take his last name.

Bijon, 28, an emergency room nurse, asked her fiancé to change his last name to preserve her father's family name because there are no sons. Buday, 29, a technical manager at an advertising firm, promised he would.

"I had a rough childhood with my father," he says. "We never really got along. Diana's father stepped up, gave me career advice. He's family."

Keeping his promise has been more onerous than Buday expected. A woman can choose her husband's name or her maiden name on a California marriage-license form after the couple pays a county application fee that ranges from $50 to $97. California and 43 other states provide no place on a marriage-license application for the groom to choose the bride's surname.

To officially change his name to hers — and for future Social Security benefits, Buday says — a man must pay a $320 court fee, advertise his intention in a newspaper for four weeks and get a judge's approval.

"The law makes it burdensome, if not close to impossible, to adopt the wife's name," says Mark Rosenbaum, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California. "It reflects the archaic notion of a woman's subordinate place in the partnership."

The ACLU sued California and Los Angeles County on Dec. 15 to have the separate treatment of Buday and Bijon outlawed as gender discrimination and a denial of equal protection. The couple were married in August 2005 under their separate names after state and county agencies rebuffed them.

Six states — Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Massachusetts, New York and North Dakota — give either spouse the right to choose the other's last name.

A marrying couple that wants a combined or hyphenated name in California and most other states must go through the red tape of a court petition. That's the route Antonio Villar of Los Angeles took in 1987 when he and his wife, Corina Raigosa, combined their names as Villaraigosa. He's now mayor of the city.

A groom seldom asks to adopt his bride's name, says Myleta Miller, a clerk at Atlanta's Probate Court. No national statistics are kept, but Miller says she's seen "no more than five" such applications in six years on the job.

Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Conny McCormack, named in the lawsuit, says her office uses a state-dictated form and will comply with any change judges or legislators might order.

"I certainly am in favor of the law … being clarified," McCormack says.
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Old 01-12-2007, 09:47 AM   #2
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I haven't changed my name yet, and the more people ask me, "Aren't you going to change your name?" like it's just something you DO without any thought or consideration, the more I'm inclined to keep my own name. I like my name, so far I'm the only one to marry (and it's not a common name), it sounds better with my first name, and I've been working my current job for four years so it would take a long time to change my info in all of our various systems. I may change it later once Phil and I start owning things jointly, but at this time I don't see the point just "because."
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Old 01-12-2007, 09:53 AM   #3
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I never realized it was so difficult.

It's just a name, I've never put much stock in last names, maybe that has to do with being adopted who knows?

The ACLU is right. (Maybe that makes me a communist )
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Old 01-12-2007, 10:12 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by Liesje
I haven't changed my name yet, and the more people ask me, "Aren't you going to change your name?" like it's just something you DO without any thought or consideration
Not to be nosy, but is that mostly people your age or older people? I would think that younger people wouldn't have such an issue with it.

I just wonder how many men still hold on to certain ideas about someone taking their name and why.

Honestly I have wanted to change my last name and take my mother's maiden name, it's similar to what he said about his own father. It's just such a hassle at this point.
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Old 01-12-2007, 10:18 AM   #5
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I think it would irk me a bit....the idea is just very ingrained into me, but I would come round to it, a name's just a name.
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Old 01-12-2007, 10:43 AM   #6
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no friggin way i'm changing my last name. actually, it isn't in my culture to. the unlucky and accidental children i would have with my unlikely husband would be fortunate to have hypenated last names, a combination of mine and his.

my parents didn't do that, they're all about being "americanized". but i'm takin it back there to our roots.

i just thought of something interesting...my culture, where machismo is still prevalent in some males, doesn't have the women change their last names in marriage, so it really isn't a subordination issue there. but then again, for the children's last name, the father's is first, and the mother's is second.
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Old 01-12-2007, 11:44 AM   #7
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I saw this story on salon.com a few days back...the eye-poppingly higher fees, mandatory "announcements of intention" and all that are ridiculous. Some states also insist on running detailed credit investigations and criminal background checks on men who want to do this to make sure they're not trying to evade the law somehow.

I don't know how applicable this is to people from other career sectors, but among academics, myself included, it's fairly typical for people of both sexes to be very reluctant to consider changing their surname upon marriage. The reason for this is that chances are you already have a significant professional identity (publications record, national scholarly associations you belong to, etc.) established under your birth name, and it can be quite anxiety-provoking to contemplate all the dossier-building opportunities you might unintentionally get shut out of, especially in an era where collaborative research and membership in multiple associations are increasingly very important. The problem this creates--assuming it isn't otherwise an issue between spouses--is that if you wind up having kids, what last name are you going to give them? Ways my colleagues have attempted to find around this have run the gamut, from giving boys the father's name and girls the mother's name (or vice versa), to forming a new surname out of parts of each parent's name, to what we did--giving them hyphenated surnames. All of these have their pros and cons though, ranging from the emotional to the practical; what we chose is in some ways the lamest strategy, because all it really does is deflect the "family legacy" dilemma onto the next generation. (On that note, it's interesting to me that the reason the couple in the above story gave for their choice was "preserving" the wife's family name "because there are no sons," suggesting they intend to "preserve" that name through children.) Whereas my colleagues who've tried the former strategies have experienced all kinds of red-tape headaches emerging from situations where someone saw it as a problem that their kids had wholly different last names from them.

By most of the more recent surveys' counts, roughly 90% of American women take their husband's name upon marrying, which is actually a marked increase from a few decades ago--I *think* declining to do so peaked around the late 70s. An optimistic interpretation of this trend advanced by a (female) Harvard economist's study a couple years back, based on respondents' comments, is that because life opportunities for women have increased so much since then, opting to go with cultural tradition doesn't feel like such a loaded choice as it did for many women 30 years ago, when the chance to be a person in your own right (colloquially speaking) hadn't at all caught up with the rapidly developing new political ideals yet, and thus the symbolic power of the gesture seemed greater. A less optimistic interpretation would be that it really more reflects backlash against feminism and mounting social pressures to return to more confining gender roles, or to at least suggest the appearance of doing so. As with other changes of this type, the shifts are most pronounced among white middle and upper class women.

But all in all, I think *most* people make the respective choices traditional to their sex in this regard simply because it's just that, tradition --as is getting married itself, of course--and they more or less unexaminedly look forward to it, just like they do to getting married in their childhood church that neither of them in truth much care for anymore, etc. etc. (Woo hoo, just look at us making it real and pulling out all the time-honored archetypal stops!...)

Personally, I've only known one couple where the prospect of the man changing his name ever even came up as an issue; this was a case where they both wanted to hyphenate, but his parents raised a HUGE fuss about it--You're our only son and your grandchildren are our only chance to preserve our family name, Her family's already got that much!, and just what sort of feelings do you have towards us anyway that you'd be willing to spite us like that just to buck tradition, blah blah blah.... In the end, my friends compromised: they went ahead and hyphenated their names, but promised to give their kids his last name. His folks, especially his mother :snorts and rolls eyes at memory: were pretty over the top, but I do suspect a lot of men's parents would have at least somewhat similar emotional responses to the idea (and probably a few male friends as well, although I reckon for most, that matters a lot less than what Mom and Dad think). But getting married is like that; it ups the stakes with certain social connections whether you like it or not, and what might sound in the abstract like "purely" a matter of two individuals expressing their beliefs about personal liberty and equality can get a whole lot messier and more fraught when you're suddenly reminded just who else gives a damn and why.
Quote:
Originally posted by redhotswami
i just thought of something interesting...my culture, where machismo is still prevalent in some males, doesn't have the women change their last names in marriage, so it really isn't a subordination issue there. but then again, for the children's last name, the father's is first, and the mother's is second.
Yeah, that's another interesting dimension to it too, the cultural difference aspect...in some parts of India for example, no one really has a "surname" per se; rather the father's (or in a few subcultures' cases, the mother's) given name gets appended to the child's given name. So for example, your mother's full name might be Lisa Mia, then you'd be Mia Anna, your daughter Anna Katrina, and so on. The "legacy" of each name ends with the next generation.
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Old 01-12-2007, 12:35 PM   #8
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I think it´s sweet for the woman to take her husbands name and form one household under one name. The hyphenation thing is just weird.
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Old 01-12-2007, 12:44 PM   #9
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how is it weird?
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Old 01-12-2007, 12:45 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by BrownEyedBoy
I think it´s sweet for the woman to take her husbands name and form one household under one name. The hyphenation thing is just weird.
And isn't it sweet that this guy wants to take his wife's last name too?
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Old 01-12-2007, 12:52 PM   #11
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Actually, I think it´s sweeter. It´s a lot harder for a man to do that for the woman he loves.
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Old 01-12-2007, 12:54 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by redhotswami
how is it weird?
Well, because you end up with awkward sounding names. Plus, you can never trace back your family as one whole like: the Kennedies, the Sinatras, the Fernández etc.
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Old 01-12-2007, 01:04 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by BrownEyedBoy


Plus, you can never trace back your family as one whole like: the Kennedies, the Sinatras, the Fernández etc.
But you can only trace back one half of your family in the "traditional" way.

My ex-wife used both last names, she was one of two girls and she knew her family name would have disappeared. If we would have children they would have had both last names.
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Old 01-12-2007, 01:07 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by BrownEyedBoy
Actually, I think it´s sweeter. It´s a lot harder for a man to do that for the woman he loves.
Why is that harder? Because a man shouldn't give up his identity (in the form of a name) to a woman but a woman should do the reverse? Can you see the inherent sexism in that?
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Old 01-12-2007, 01:09 PM   #15
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Yes, I see the sexism in it. I could never get my wife´s last name like this guy did. If I were a woman though I would be more than happy to have my husband´s last name.
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