via Texas Observer
photo credit SF Gate
Last year in California, Connie married Aimee, cuz it’s legal and all, you know, and good, too. And after the wedding, Connie took Aimee’s last name, Wilson, as her own; Connie and Aimee Wilson. And she changed her name to Wilson on her Social Security card, her driver’s license, and on all their financial and medical records.
Connie Wilson. Say it with me, Texas. Connie Wilson.
See, this past summer, Connie and Aimee Wilson, and their three children, moved to Houston, and since her California driver’s license was about to expire, Connie Wilson went a DPS [Department of Public Safety] office to get a Texas license. But when a DPS employee saw that Connie Wilson‘s name on her California driver’s license didn’t match the name on the birth certificate, Connie Wilson showed her marriage license … to Aimee Wilson.
“Her only words to me were, ‘Is this same-[sex]?' I remember hesitating for probably 10 seconds. I didn’t know how to answer. I didn’t want to lie, but I knew I was in trouble because I wasn’t going to be able to get a license.”—Connie Wilson
So she answered truthfully, that even though it didn’t make a difference in California, she was indeed married to a woman.
The DPS worker told Connie Wilson she couldn’t get a license; she needed something else to “validate” her last name — apparently a marriage license, Social Security card, and all the other papers she had weren’t enough — and then she told Connie Wilson, “the name doesn’t belong to me.”
Now, we all know, and Connie Wilson knows, that Texas has a state statute and a constitutional amendment that prohibits the recognition of same-sex marriages from other states, but is Connie Wilson asking them to recognize her marriage, or is she just applying for a driver’s license?
See, it doesn’t end there; because it’s Texas; Connie Wilson won’t be able to drive once her California license expires; she won’t be able to fly, either, and she won’t be able to purchase anything requiring a photo ID. Also, since she won’t have a photo ID, she and her family might not be able to close on a home they’re hoping to buy, and they may not be able to obtain disability benefits for one of their children, who has both autism and Down syndrome.
And that’s ridiculous.
To add insult to injury, the DPS employee, who turned out to be a supervisor, suggested that Connie Wilson apply for a driver’s license using her maiden name, except that she can’t do that either because she lacks the necessary documentation to do so. The supervisor then suggested she could apply for a Texas license if she obtained an order from a state court changing her name to Wilson.
Well, that’s $500 Connie Wilson would have to pay that straight couples who marry don’t need to be bothered with, and, even if she did so, there is no guarantee she would be successful because she’s changing her name to that of her, yes, same-sex spouse, and this is Texas and, well, Texas. Plus, as Connie Wilson says, her name is already federally, legally recognized as Wilson so she’s not sure a judge would see the point in granting the name change.
Connie Wilson — who says she now knows “what it feels like for a person who is undocumented” — has contacted Equality Texas, which is now working with Houston Senator Sylvia Garcia’s office on the issue.
Paul Townsend, general counsel for Garcia, is awaiting a written explanation of the agency’s position before issuing a formal response, but he does notice that the DPS website says existing Texas residents cannot use same-sex marriage licenses from others states to update their licenses, but there is no policy whatsoever regarding new Texas residents whose names have already been changed elsewhere.
Connie Wilson will not give up, though; she says she will get a valid, accurate Texas driver’s license even if it means suing the Department of Public Safety, not for money, but just for the right to have her legal name on her driver’s license.
And for all other same-sex couples — just the ones married legally in other states … for now … since Texas is just one of the states being sued to recognize same-sex marriages—to have the same rights as anyone else.