Reasons to be denied a driver’s license:
- Crashing into another vehicle during the driving test
- Missing too many questions on the written exam
- Being legally blind
- And, if you live in Nebraska, being married to someone of the same sex
Although a person’s sexuality and/or marital status should have no impact on whether a citizen can obtain a driver’s license, Sue Stroesser has found herself automatically denied by the Nebraska DMV since changing her last name, reports the Omaha World-Herald.
Sue Stroesser, formerly Sue Kirchofer, has been with her partner Mary Stroesser for 30 years. After same-sex marriage became legal in Iowa, the pair wed. Recently, the spouses, along with their two young children, decided to return to their home state of Nebraska to live closer to their families.
Initially, the DMV was helpful, telling Stroesser they could easily use her proper name with proof of her marriage certificate. Once she furnished her marriage paperwork, however, the DMV would not issue her a license. “We have to follow the Constitution and can’t recognize a marriage license for two persons of the same gender,” said Rhonda Lahm, the head of Nebraska’s DMV. In order to get a license issued with her proper name, Stroesser will have to legally change her name in the state of Nebraska through a costly court procedure.
“I’ve been a Stroesser for a long time,” said Stroesser. “I’m not asking for recognition of my marriage with Mary. I am asking for state identification with my current legal name.”
This seemingly unnecessary procedure is especially strange given that Stroesser already is her legal name in just about every other aspect. In addition to having credit cards, a passport and a social security in her married name, she’s been licensed to practice health care in Nebraska under her new name, also paying taxes to the state using that name for three years.
Other entities have been more accommodating of Stroesser’s situation than the DMV. When Stroesser was potentially the victim of identity fraud, her bank allowed her to use her passport in lieu of a license to settle the issue. Additionally, although her car insurance company normally requires proof of license from the state in which she resides, they have waived that prerequisite for the time being until she can sort out this issue. Even the Douglas County Election Commission permitted her to register to vote.
At this point, it might be fair to say that local DMVs are not beacons of progressiveness when it comes to LGBT issues. This year, two trans women in West Virginia have had difficulty obtaining licenses with their new genders, while another “non-gender conforming” teenager in South Carolina was forbidden from taking his photo with makeup.
Just because these situations are not uncommon does not make them acceptable. Tell the Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles to update their policy to be more inclusionary by signing this petition. Even if Nebraska does not permit same-sex marriage, that does not mean the state should intentionally put up obstacles to symbolically indicate their disapproval of law-abiding citizens’ personal lives.