Say thank you to the straight people because, just like them, you can do what you want. Names today are far more a matter of a personal statement than convention.
Do you change your last name?
Most same-sex couples keep their names. But some gay couples wish to share the same last name just like straight couples do. What are some other factors that can come into play?
Some couples feel that having the same name makes a political statement. It can help get your sexual orientation out there and keep you from being invisible as a couple. In actual practice the opposite is true. Couples are more likely to pass and siblings or cousin's than lovers. In some places this may work greatly to your advantage. If laws are hostile to same-sex couples then identical last names may allow clerks and authorities to look the other way.
Couples with children feel that having the same last names makes it easier when talking to school officials or medical personnel about their families. This is far from true. Schools in the U.S. are used to parents having different names from their children. Both school and hospitals are dependent on who is on the paperwork rather than simply whether your names are alike.
Some gay couples who travel with small children have reported that it is easier in some countries for everyone to have the same name. If you both have the same surname you might pass as siblings.
Paperwork is the key for hospital visits. You need to make it clear with your health care providers that your next of kin is your spouse. Simply having the same name as the person in the room will not necessarily give you admittance.
Mrs. Vs Ms.
I am old enough to remember how hard women fought for Ms and why it is better to use. 100 years ago Mrs. followed by a name told people a lot. I know this is not what is done today but lets review the history of what a signed name told you in 1910.
Jane Bluebell is a young child
Miss Jane Bluebell is a non-married woman
Mrs. John Smith is the wife or widow of John Smith
Mrs. Jane Smith is divorced or rarely widowed women
Mrs. Smith Jones was married to Smith and is now married to Jones
Sr. Mary Barbara Bluebell is a nun
The Madams Smith are two or more women married into the Smith family
This was on the way out when "Ms" came along and nailed it in a coffin. And that was a happy day. People do not need to get a map of your home life every time you sign your name. "Ms." tells people they have to ask if they need to know. In a non-traditional relationship asking may be preferable. Today the most likely usage "Mrs." is in explanation of "Ms." " I was Mrs. Smith but now am Mrs. Jones." said Jane Bluebell.
Men also change their names but it is much rarer. The reasons men change surnames are not always positive. In past generations gay men sometimes it's changed their last names in order to protect their family from discrimination. The actor Devine was a famous example. His family requested that he never use their name. Criminals seeking fame also used new names. [Think Black Bart.] On the positive side, nom De plume and stage names gave men and women for privacy. Men taking and noble titles sometimes had a change in name.
Name changeing has different effects on men and women. Women in western society often change their name and with little consequence. I've known many women who have changed their names for reasons other than marriage and the world seemed quite content with it. The men I've known who've tried to change their names have had a rougher time. One gay man who took his husband's last name often had to explain it. I was with him on more than one occasion when a straight man grilled him on the reason why. They seem to be looking for what was negative about his name or why he felt he needed to be submissive. Was he hiding something? Why is it that other male friends both gay and stright keep their last names? The conversations were short, awkward , and never and satisfying. People just did not feel good about it. The fact they his family was not supportive led many people to assume that it was done as a way of getting back at them.
If you live in a state with a strong defense of marriage law you may need to talk with a lawyer. Read about this coulpe in Nebraska and why they could not change their last names. The couple married legally in Iowa on May 4, after Iowa's Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriages were legal. But Nebraska's constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and prejudice stand in the way. So see a lawyer.
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