Georgia Woman Not Allowed to Change Name on License
A Georgia woman says state officials won’t allow her to change her name on her driver’s license to reflect her marriage to her wife.
Danielle McCollum was trying to add the last name of her wife, Shakira Tucker, to her Georgia driver’s license this month, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
The couple, both 24, in July got married in Massachusetts, where same-sex marriage is legal. But they live in Georgia, where voters overwhelmingly voted to amend the state constitution to ban gay marriage.
Tucker had no problem last month getting her last name changed on her license to McCollum-Tucker. But when McCollum went to the same Department of Driver Services office in Sandy Springs earlier this month and showed the same marriage certificate, she was denied.
"This could be a real significant moment in the fight for gay rights," McCollum said.
Department of Driver Services spokeswoman Susan Sports said she couldn’t comment on the couple’s case, but she did say in a statement that "the Georgia Constitution prohibits all state agencies from accepting same-sex marriage documentation for any purpose."
McCollum said she’s angry she can’t share the same last name as her wife in the wake of the June U.S. Supreme Court decision granting federal benefits to married same-sex couples.
"I was angry. I was shaking. It was probably the worst feeling I had ever had in my entire life. I told her they were discriminating against me," she said. "I was shocked. I had never been openly discriminated against."
Gay rights organizations were also angered.
"This is just another example of the indignities Georgia puts on gay and lesbian couples," said Jeff Graham, the executive director of the gay rights group Georgia Equality. "I find it highly disturbing that an individual in Driver Services wouldn’t recognize that."
Legislative leaders wouldn’t comment on McCollum’s troubles, but state Rep. Karla Drenner, Georgia’s first openly gay state legislator, said she was looking into a solution.
"It’s a document. This shouldn’t be political," said Drenner, a Democrat from Avondale Estates. "Take the politics out of it. This has nothing to do with same-sex marriage."
McCollum has started an online petition that she hopes will be remembered as a significant victory for the gay rights movement. It’s already gotten thousands of signatures.
"There’s no real reason to discriminate against us," she said. "We just want to be treated fairly and respectably and equally."