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Name Change

Tomorrow I go to court to get my name changed.  Again.

When Darwin and I got married, I decided to take advantage of the situation and change my name. This was partly because I've never liked my birth middle name, and I never, ever use it, and partly to point out my marriage.

Per the State of Michigan's requirements when changing one's name at marriage, I signed our marriage certificate with my new name: Steven Harper McClary Piziks.  The "Harper McClary" parts were new.

Then the fun started.

When I went to the social security office to alert them to the change, they accepted it without a blink.  As far as the federal government is concerned, my name became Steven H. M. Piziks.

Then I went to the Secretary of State's office to change it on my driver's license.  (Michigan has a DMV, but it doesn't bother itself with actual cars or driving.)  They acted like they'd never seen this before.

"Where did this name change come from?" the clerk asked.

"I got married," I said.  "And Harper is an old family name I'm taking on while I'm at it."  (If I had to explain, this seemed easier than going into details about my writing career and pen name.)

"So you're hyphenating?"

"No.  I'm taking my husband's name as my middle name, along with Harper."

"We only have space here for one middle name."

"That's not true.  My husband's full name is Darwin Douglas Parks McClary, and all four names appear on his license."

"We can't change your name without ID."

"I don't HAVE ID.  You do understand that I got married last week, right?  So all my IDs are in my OLD name.  I just changed it to my NEW name.  Here's my marriage license with my NEW name on it, along with my NEW social security card."

"We can't accept a social security card or marriage license as ID."

I wanted to mash her face into her keyboard.  "How do you handle it when someone gets married, then?"

"They show their marriage certificate."

I tapped mine meaningfully.  "Ta da!"

"But you can sign any name on that certificate," she said.

"Yes.  That's the point.  I'm changing my name to match my husband's."

"We have no verfiication of that."

"How about a marriage certificate and a social security card?"

"We can't accept those."

"Supervisor, please," I sighed.

"We can't--"

"Supervisor, please."

The supervisor also acted like she had never seen this before.

"Look," I said, growing more exasperated, "you can't tell me no one gets married and changes their name and wants a new driver's license."

"We need official documents to show a name change," the supervisor said.

"Marriage license, social security card," I said.

"We can't take those. They aren't official."

"Even though this is stamped and sealed by the clerk," I said.

"Look," she said, "we can change your middle name to McClary, but this Harper thing--we don't have any verfication of that."

"What kind of verfication?"

"A court order.  Until then, your names won't match in the two databases, and we won't be able to renew your license when it expires."

"Then change it."

"I need official documents."

The argument went on. At this point, I could see that she wasn't going to make the full name change, but in a fit of malicious revenge, I decided to deliberately waste her time, so I carried on for a great deal longer than necessary, then made her change my middle name to McClary.

Eventually I filed the paperwork with the county court to change my name fully.  It cost over $300, and I have to go before a judge.

This seemed grossly unfair to me.  If I were a minimum wage worker, there's no way I'd be able to afford this.  I could barely afford it with what I have now.  In other words, someone who has money has access to a legal process that someone without money does not.  If I were poor, I'd be stuck with the wrong name and no way to correct it.  (Also note the hidden cost of going before a judge--this means time away from work.  Someone with a job that doesn't grant sick leave actually has to pay MORE than the $300 because they lose the day's wages.)

So tomorrow I go to court, and then I go back to the Secretary of State, where I'll demand to see the supervisor and make her personally do my name change.


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