Support Grows for GA Lesbians Discriminated Against at DMV
When Georgia lesbian couple Danielle McCollum and Shakira Tucker got married in Massachusetts this summer, they were excited to start their new life as the McCollum-Tucker family. But the Georgia Department of Driver Services had other ideas and refused to allow a name change for the newlyweds. Now, support is growing for the women, via a petition on Change.org.
"Its very important to us because we’re like anyone else, when you get married you want to change your name to reflect your spouses’ name," McCollum told WSB-TV 2 Atlanta.
Initially, the two thought it would be a small matter to make the name change. Tucker went down to the DDS in Sandy Springs first, and said that the clerk checked with his manager, and using their Massachusetts marriage certificate, changed her license to read "Shakira McCollum-Tucker." But a few weeks later, when McCollum went to the same office and showed the same certificate, she was turned away.
The office told McCollum that the name change for her partner had been granted in error. In a written statement, they said that the state constitution prohibits all state agencies from accepting same-sex marriage documentation for any purpose.
To add insult to injury, now the DDS said Tucker’s license was no longer valid, either. They mandated that the DDS would cancel her driver’s license unless she is able to provide alternative documentation to support her full legal name, such as a U.S. Passport or court-ordered name change.
"The DMV can’t seem to make up their minds as to how they’ll treat couples like Shakira and me. First, they let Shakira change her name and then they reject my request. Now, they’re taking her license back and inflicting more pain upon our family," said McCollum, who started a petition on Change.org. "We can change our names on passports, social security ID cards, and credit cards and can even file joint tax returns. It just doesn’t make sense that we can do all these things, but we can’t have the same last name on our driver’s licenses!"
A September 27 letter from the Georgia Department of Driver Services and Director Alan Watson to Tucker noted that, "The DDS is prohibited from recognizing or accepting documents relating to a same-sex marriage, civil union, or divorce therefrom granted in another state pursuant to verbiage found in Article 1, Section IV, Paragraph I of the Constitution of the State of Georgia."
They gave her 10 days to return her license to the DDS, or to submit an appeal in writing. Tucker returned to the DDS on Thursday, Oct. 10 to surrender her driver’s license. But she didn’t return alone -- she brought with her the press and a large group of supporters, in person and via more than 10,000 signatures on a Change.org petition supporting the couple’s right to allow married same-sex couples to change their names on their driver’s license.
The two could go to court to legally change their names, but say that it is expensive, and that they should have to do something that heterosexual couples don’t have to do.
"There’s no real reason to discriminate against us, we just want to be treated fairly and equally and respectfully," said McCollum. "I think if more people will speak out, we can make the change happen."
To sign the petition, visit http://www.change.org/DMVdiscrimination