A same sex child (child of a same sex couple), whether by childbirth or adoption, visits upon the parents all the same complexities, anxieties and hopefulness about choosing a name for the little one as is experienced by their heterosexual counterparts, plus the one ever present twist presented by bans and biases aimed at same-sex marriage in various locales. In most of the states, and as to the federal government until at least the summer of 2013, sharing last names through the civil marriage process is not available to gay and lesbian couples. They almost always can legally change their names through a Name Change Court process in their state court, and many do. But for the others, they have the added dilemma of which last name to give their child.
In the early 21st century, many heterosexual couples marry and then each individual keeps their own family name after marriage. So same-sex couples’ problem in this (What last name to give the same sex child) area is far from unique to sexuality in this day and age. Still, it’s another problem same-sex parents must face not of their own choosing.
In any event, the same-sex couple’s problem isn’t truly the same as their heterosexual counterparts because social norms work mostly for the man/woman couple with different last names and against the same-sex couple in the same boat. A school may not agree to allow a same-sex parent with a different last name to take the child out of school, but may allow the opposite-sex parent with a different last name to do so. A hospital might not allow that same-sex parent with a different last name to give medical personnel direction or make decisions about the child’s care, whereas the opposite-sex couple with different last names may fare better.
It’s hard to say whether these kinds of problems, and they can be very serious ones at times, would disappear if both same-sex parents had the same last name as each other and as their child. Although there’s a certain common sense presumption to think that at least some school, hospital, government, etc., administrators or other personnel wouldn’t think to question you if the family names were all the same.
The same-sex couple has to do the brain-teasing work of thinking through these quasi-legal, cultural complexities in advance when deciding the otherwise very fun task of naming their child. But, same-sex or not, no one ever said parenting was easy.
Are you in a same-sex “marriage” (legal or not) with one or more children? How have you handled the question of your child’s last name? Knowing what you now know, would you do anything differently if you were going to do it from the beginning again? If you have dealt with this and you don’t mind taking a minute to share your thoughts and experiences with us via email, we would like to hear from you so we could share your comments with other readers.
If you want to get a Legal Name Change for your child, or for yourself, the EZnamechange.com website is designed to walk you through the EZ 3-step Name Change Questionnaire, provide you with a complete ready-to-file set of paperwork and guidance to complete the process quickly, inexpensively and confidently. Just click on the “Start Now” button, and in about 15-20 minutes, you’ll have the Petition part done and be well on your way to getting your Legal Name Change Decree! (all costs are there)