What’s in a name?


After all, what IS in a name?

A lot, actually.

I mean think about it. Names (of people, of objects, of places) tell you who or what they are. A table is a table because it’s not a desk. Central Park immediately conjures up thoughts of New York City while Seattle makes me think of space needles and rain.

People’s names (first and last) have meaning too. At least in America, a person’s last name (usually) designates to which family they belong, and in year’s past it might have designated what job they did or their social status. My first and middle names, Katherine Elizabeth Ruth, are from a great-aunt (Kathryn who went by Kay), another great aunt (Elizabeth who went by Libby) and my grandmother (Ruth).

All this to say, Marianne and I have decided to legally change our last names to the same one to reflect the fact that we are creating a new family.

She didn’t want to just pick a name out of thin air and I didn’t really mind what we went with, so we’ve settled on Ayers. That was her last name when she was born, before she was adopted and it was changed to Hines.

I’m kind of emotional about all this. I’m excited to take this step because it’s one (more) way we can try and claim our “family” even though the North Carolina government doesn’t recognize it as such. Also,

  • Having one last name helps smooth hospital access should either one of us ever be admitted in an emergency and the other one can’t get there right away;
  • It helps make the process of creating legal documents easier;
  • If we ever decide to adopt a daughter, I want us all to have the same last name for her sake. It’ll be weird enough for her to deal with explaining two moms, at least if we all have the same name (I hope) it will make things easier.

In some sense I’m stepping into tradition, letting go of my current last name to take my partner’s name, but I am also breaking from my own family tradition. My parents never married, although they were in a relationship for 21 years or so and I grew up with my dad around, but I have my mom’s last name, so by my  leaving my birth name and taking a new one, I’m doing things just a bit differently.

But wait…because we’re a same-gender couple trying to do a name change in North Carolina, there’s a catch. Which is why I think we waited until the last month before we’re moving to do all of this., we’ve been putting it off Ready, here goes:

  • We must have two sets of fingerprints done at the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office (between the hours of 8:30 and 10:30 a.m. or 1:30 and 3:30 pm Monday through Friday);
  • We must send one of those sets to the State Bureau of Investigations (and a money order) for a state background check;
  • We must send the other set to the Federal Bureau of Investigations (and a money order) for a federal background check;
  • Once those come back, we must submit an application for the permanent name change with the results of the backround checks and a sworn affidavit from three friends who live in Forsyth County that we are not axe murders or running from the law (and a money order) to the Forsyth County Court;
  • At some point, we have to hang a notice that we are changing our name on some bulletin board in the courthouse for 10 days;
  • I may have to go before a judge to explain why I want a name change (although we think you can do it one time for personal reasons no questions asked);
  • Assuming my explanation is deemed sufficient, I think that’s it. Did I mention that everything has to be done in Forsyth County? And during regular business hours? And that I work in Guilford County 40 minutes away?

All in all, the whole process is going to cost us $162 a piece, $324 total.

Now, if I married a man instead, if my chosen partner was Martin instead of Marianne, I would skip all of the above steps and use my marriage certificate to change my social security card, my driver’s license, my work forms – anything and everything I need to. A marriage license in Forsyth County is $70, less than three-quarters of what I’ve got to pay. As Marianne said earlier on Facebook,

The glaring inequality pisses me off to no end!!!

The rest of Marianne’s post was about how irritated and annoyed she was at this whole process, especially the money, because we’re just about getting ready to move and money’s a bit tight. But we want to have the name thing settled before I start a new job and she starts school, so it’s got to be soon. Our wonderful friend and all-around smart person Anne piped up and commented:

M & K Ayers. I really like it. I think you two should create a “gofundme.com” account and let all of us that love you, gift you with your new names! I’m proud and pissed with you.

So I did, I set up a GoFundMe account where folks can add money if they feel so moved. We’re asking for $375, the cost of the name change plus a bit leftover for dinner. Check the link below, I’ll probably be including it in each of my posts from now on just to remind you all.

Thanks in advance, you all are the reason I keep writing.

Name change and dinner to celebrate! – click here to donate…


8 responses »

  1. It’s not easy that is for sure. In NC, changing your name actually changes on your BIRTH CERTIFICATE which is kinda sad to lose that part since in heterosexual marriages they just append their name. That of course leads to many other difficulties that require proving the name change via a paper trail all the time. For instance, five years later, my partner has to take her paper trail and prove it yet again because of some one inept soul at the bank. It’s all super annoying, but in the end, it’s all worth it because we share the same last name and are forever bound.

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  7. Wow.

    I changed my name in the UK. I could draft my own deed from suggestions from web-contacts. I signed it in front of a solicitor because he worked in my office, but could have signed it in front of a magistrate for £10 or so, I think. We made copies and posted them out to the bank, etc. I got a passport saying F rather than M as soon as I changed my name.

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