September 25, 2012

Demands That Men Be Treated Similarly To Women When Changing Name After Marriage

For Immediate Release
September 25, 2012

Contact: Amelia McGowan,, 601-540-6642
Bear Atwood,, 601-862-8658

When Robert Everhart (nee McCarthy) married Mary Everhart, he chose to adopt his wife's last name. To his surprise and dismay, the Mississippi Department of Public Safety (DPS) refused to change the name on his license absent a court order even though women only have to provide a copy of their marriage license and Social Security card showing their married name. Mr. Everhart changed his name with the Social Security Administration without trouble; however, when he presented his card and marriage license to DPS, officials told him that because a husband's name change was "not traditional," he would have to go to court to change his name.

Today, on behalf of Robert Everhart, the ACLU sent a letter to DPS demanding that they permit him to change his name, as they would permit a woman to change hers. The letter also demands that the Department desist from future use of this discriminatory practice, and train their employees accordingly.

"DPS's refusal to change Everhart's name violates state and federal law," said Amelia McGowan, staff attorney at the ACLU of Mississippi. "This policy reinforces gender stereotypes and places an additional burden on men, in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the US Constitution."

The letter outlines DPS's statutory and constitutional violations, including specific language in the Mississippi Code that permits both men and women to change their name after marriage.

"It is shocking that in the year 2012 Mississippi officials continue to follow outmoded and discriminatory practices," said Bear Atwood, Legal Director at the ACLU. "Following 'tradition' does not provide a legitimate reason for DPS to violate state law and the Equal Protection Clause."

"My wife and I made a decision as a family that I would adopt her surname," said Everhart. "This personal decision should not be subject to the old-fashioned ideas at DPS. It is the principal of it; no one but my wife and I should decide what our family will be called."

The ACLU has asked DPS to respond to McGowan's letter within ten days.

Letter to Commissioner Santa Cruz