State Department will Honor Marital Name Changes for Passports
June 17, 2009
Thanks to the hard work of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), the State Department has agreed to accept same-sex couples’ marriage licenses as sufficient evidence for a name change on a passport. This agreement comes after Keith Toney and his husband Al Toney III filed suit against the State Department in GLAD’s multi-plaintiff challenge to Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as it applies to spousal protections in Social Security, federal income tax, federal employment benefits, and the issuance of passports. When Keith and Al married in Massachusetts in 2004, Keith took his husband’s last name. Although he was able to amend his Massachusetts driver’s license, the State Department, in charge of issuing passports, refused to accept his marriage as evidence of the name change because DOMA restricts the federal definition of “marriage” to the union between a man and a woman. In Monday’s letter to the plaintiffs’ attorneys at GLAD and Foley Hoag LLP, the Department of Justice wrote that, effective immediately, the State Department has amended its Foreign Affairs Manual to provide for the issuance of new passports under a legal name change recognized by state law. Keith Toney and other legally married same-sex couples can now receive passports under their married names. Congratulations to Keith and Al, and all the folks at GLAD for their hard work in this victory. This post submitted by Human Rights Campaign Law Fellow Emily Ames.