In a Gay Marriage? Texas Might Not Let You Have a Driver’s License

A woman who moved to Texas with her wife this year has been denied a driver’s license under her married name due to Texas’ ban on same-sex marriage, an unusual case with wider-reaching implications.

Connie Wilson and her partner Aimee were married in California over a year ago, at which time she took her partner’s name. Due to work commitments, earlier this year the couple and their three children moved to Texas. In the course of sorting out the various paperwork that comes with moving, Connie Wilson realized that her driver’s license was nearing its expiration date, so she went down to the Department of Public Safety (DPS) branch office in Pasadena to obtain a new updated license. When she got there and presented her marriage license as a second form of identification, however, she encountered a problem.

“The [DPS] employee asked, ‘Is this a same?’ I knew what she meant, and I knew I would have a problem,” Wilson is quoted as saying. She was told that, as same-sex marriages are not legal in Texas, the DPS could not accept the marriage license as proof of Wilson’s name change, but not just that: “She immediately told me, ‘You can’t use this to get your license. This doesn’t validate your last name. Do you have anything else?’ She told me I would never get a license with my current name, that the name doesn’t belong to me.”

The DPS later released a statement to the press saying that “To receive a Texas driver license or identification card reflecting a name change from a same-sex marriage, a court order is required.”

However, Connie Wilson disputes that a court order is necessary. After all, she isn’t asking for a name change as her driver’s license already reflects her married name, so she just needs a new state resident license. Furthermore, while Texas might not recognize same-sex marriages, it can’t dispute the fact that Connie Wilson is married in the state of California and that the marriage certificate is a valid one. Whether they accept it or not is a different matter, but pretending that Connie Wilson’s marriage, and therefore her name change, simply ceases to exist within Texas borders is incredibly shortsighted. It also speaks to why the so-called state by state approach to same-sex marriage has failed, because it leaves same-sex couples vulnerable as they move through the United States.

Connie Wilson also points out that there are further ramifications as a result of being denied a driver’s license. She will not be able to use that form of ID to vote in the upcoming elections, and says that there are other ways in which it could hamper her.Wilson told the Observer: “I’ve been deprived the freedom to drive a vehicle once my current California driver’s license expires. I’m further being deprived the freedom to use air travel, make purchases that require a valid photo identification, seek medical attention for myself or my children, as well as other situations that would require proving who I am legally as an individual.”

Wilson now faces the lengthy prospect of renewing her passport and changing it to reflect her new address. Once that is done, she won’t then require another secondary form of identification and will be able to obtain a driver’s license — but it’s unlikely she’ll be able to accomplish this before voting day rolls around. StateSenator Sylvia Garcia, D-Houston, is now reportedly trying to assist Wilson and bring attention to this case.

While there have been many cases of discrimination relating to a failure to recognize same-sex marriages, the DPS’ move in this instance seems quite bizarre given that Wilson’s name had already been changed in California and that Texas didn’t have to recognize the marriage in order to acknowledge her married name because it is stated as verified fact on the old license.

It is true, however, that currently Texas does not recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, as well as within its own borders. In February a federal judge struck down Texas’ same-sex marriage ban but, while that decisionis waiting to be heard by the appeals court, the law remains in effect.What happened to Wilson, then, could be read as a fastidious application of the constitutional ban on same-sex marriage — but Wilson believes that with this rule the DPS has gone out of its way to discriminate against her, and others like her, when it could have simply processed the license without meaningfully having recognized the marriage, and as such she reportedly intends to file a lawsuit to ensure that the DPS can’t do this to other people.

Photo credit: Thinkstock.

82 comments

Jennifer H.
Jennifer H3 years ago

I guess what they say is true. Everything is bigger in Texas....

Thanks for the laugh RKH

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June Lacy
June Lacy3 years ago

RKH I LOVED YOUR POST

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Vicki Fellner
Victoria Fellner3 years ago

RKH, thanks for the laugh. It was spot on. Too bad it's not that easy to get rid of the repug rats.

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Vicky P.
Vicky P3 years ago

hm :/

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Azaima A.
Azaima A3 years ago

boycott Texas

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Adam Costello
.3 years ago

wrong on so many levels to deny this woman a driers licence

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Miranda Lyon
Miranda Lyon3 years ago

Hi Anne M., Why should anyone be required to change their chosen name in order to conform to someone else's prejudices or preferences? I did not change my name when I married in l969, and believe me it was a struggle at times to maintain my choice in the face of some members of my husband's family who refused (and one who still does 45 years later!) to acknowledge me under my own name...and to maintain it when I had to go the the Arizona State Attorney General in order to force the state to issue my income tax refund using my name rather than my husband's last name (the Feds never questioned it). I had state agencies inform me that I was legally required to change my last name to my husband's last name when there was, in fact, no such law. Would you really suggest that I should have bowed to these pressures, to social prejudice and legal ignorance?

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Miranda Lyon
Miranda Lyon3 years ago

It's a real shame that all the sensible, well-educated, broad-minded, thinking, kind and caring folks who live in Texas aren't the ones in charge of what goes on there these days.

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Janis K.
Janis K3 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Rhonda B.
Rhonda B3 years ago

No comment.

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