Waymon Hudson

Married gay man denied passport over his name

Filed By Waymon Hudson | March 28, 2008 11:24 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Living, Marriage Equality, Politics, Politics
Tags: DOMA, gay marriage, Passport, State Department

Jason Hair-Wynn got married to his partner in Massachusetts and then legally added his partner's last name to his own. But when Jason applied for a new passport in order to go to Africa to do HIV/AIDS education work for orphaned kids, the US State Department declined his application.

The reason for the rejection? DOMA. The State Department said it was prohibited from recognizing his new name because of the Defense of Marriage Act.

That's right, folks. The State Department would not recognize his LEGAL name change because it implies he and his husband are actually married. Gasp! The official reply after the jump...

In a letter to Jason, the State Department writes:

We are unable to comply with your request for a name change based on the documentation you sent because of the Defense of Marriage Act ... In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administration bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word 'marriage' means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word 'spouse' refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.

Jason is an AIDS counselor and was going to Africa to help educate children in Africa about HIV and AIDS. He says he's planning to change his name back so he can go to the continent that has been ravaged by the disease.

Wow. So now this man has to go through the expense and trouble of LEGALLY changing his name again to do his important work? He has to choose between taking his partner's name or helping educate children about HIV/AIDS?

It seems our government would rather put children at risk than recognize a gay relationship in any way. Good to see that our government has its priorities straight...

Who is the real threat to families and children here? The man trying to spread education about HIV/AIDS or the people trying their best to stop him to "protect the sanctity of marriage"? It think the answer becomes more and more obvious all the time.


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Something is fishy here. What did he submit for documentation? Surely not his marriage certificate? The marriage should have nothing to do with the name change. He could have changed his name to Goofy Poopypants, and if he went through the court system, and a judge approved his name, the marriage is irrelevant to the passport bureaucracy. Just submit the court documentation with the approved name change and get a new passport. The marriage is none of their business. Try again.

I don't know what the regulations are in your state. But in my state, and in most states, the marriage certificate constitutes the legal name change. If you change your name at the time of marriage through your marriage certificate, there would be no need to go to a judge to change your name. So I'm not really sure why you would expect this person to have done so. The marriage certificate is exactly what you would submit to social security, DMV, department of state, etc. to change these documents. The DMV in MA would have accepted his marriage certificate and changed his name on his drivers license, so I'm sure that carries his married name. Why should his passport have a different name?

Goofy Poopypants? lol

Yeah, his name shouldn't matter for a passport if it's his legal name. What a strange situation.

So some dude in Idaho can legally chance his name to Pro-Choice and run for office, but this guy can't get a passport? Fucking brilliant!

The problem is that to change one's name in many states, you have to provide detailed reasoning (like getting married, as in this case). I'm assuming the paperwork that this guy submitted to the State Department had that info on it, which set off the anti-gay red flags. Threat level Pink, for sure.

Like Serena said: Fucking Brilliant.

I saw that he could get an "also known as" authorization paper too - which is what he's going to do. The problem? Automatic suspicion of terrorism and whatnot which means he'll have even more problems traveling.

This is pure bull crap.

A name change is not a recognition of a marriage by any stretch of the imagination. As pointed out before, he could have changed his name to almost anythiing he wanted, for any reason he wanted. The only reason he would have to send the court order would be that the name does not match the one on his birth certificate. The reasons it does not match are irrelevant to the application. This is pure bush inspired scare tactics and harrasment.

I would file a formal complaint to the state department and demand that they recognise his legal name. If they didn't, then the civil liberties union should get involved.

I would suggest that Jason get in touch with someone in Senator Kennedy's office to look into this. I would think that as long as there is a legal name change approved by judge, it would be immaterial as to the cause for that name change. Some homophobic bureaucrat is overstepping his authority.

Goofy Poopypants