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DOMESTIC PARTNERS: Couples charged for name change

Letter by Chalu I. Harris, Tacoma on Aug. 29, 2011 at 1:33 pm with 17 Comments »
August 29, 2011 1:33 pm

I am half of a registered domestic partnership in Washington state. We visited the Tacoma Social Security office, and after a short wait were called by an agent. We presented all of our information, and after a chat with her supervisor the agent set about changing our names. She had just changed my name in the system when her supervisor came back and told her to stop.

It seems that while the Social Security Administration has said we can change our names, the State of Washington has not. We were informed that to change our names we would need to pay a $157 fee and file with the courts to ask a judge for permission to change our names.

I am dismayed and extremely disappointed that as a couple in a domestic partnership we have fees associated with changing our names while married couples do not. This is not a matter of married vs. domestic partnership because laws give couples a right to a name change.

Since name change has become customary, most jurisdictions give couples this right with the presentation of a marriage certificate. The only charge encountered for updating their names on the driver’s license.

Is it equitable that couples in a domestic partnership should have a fee that is 1,600 percent more than that of a married couple? Domestic partnerships are open to straight and gay couples alike, so this affects both.

It is not fair to my family or any other couple and needs to be righted expeditiously.

Leave a comment Comments → 17
  1. Boo Hoo — The SSN is a FEDERAL agency — not a State agency.

  2. old_benjamin says:

    Ah, those unintended consequences again. You ain’t seen nuthin’ yet.

  3. itwasntmethistime says:

    Boo hoo hoo.

  4. I’m not a legal beagle on any of this. However, I checked the Revised Code of Washington. At RCW 26.60.040 it states the secretary may establish fees to effect registration of the domestic partnership to include changes in NAME. Subsection 4 states the nominal fee cannot exceed $50. I believe the federal employee at the Social Security office is not knowledgeable in state and local law or may have relied on calling a less knowledgeable person at the county clerk’s office. Chalu, I’d check into it at the county clerk’s office or attorney general’s office citing the Revised Code of Washington.

  5. Something wrong with this story. Feds are not controlled by the states. And as far as I know, DOMA is still the fed law so how can SSA violate it?

    On another front, what is the purpose of a name change for “partners?” Is it to acquire social approval? Is it for taxes? SSA benefits?

    How does it change your life to have it?

  6. pgroup, It is none of anybody’s business as to why somebody wants to change their name. It could be as simple as you do not like the name your parent’s gave you or you just want to pick your own name. I’ve seen many immigrants with extremely long and complicated names choose an Americanized name. The only point made above is the RCW states the fee is nominal and cannot exceed fifty dollars.

    Again, it is of no concern why a person wants to change their name. And, the federal agencies will recognize any name change as long as it is legal.


  7. Chalu, your problem is with the religious bigots in Congress. Social Security does what the bigots tell them to do. Thus they will accept a marriage certificate for a name change, but they don’t accept your domestic partnership certificate for a name change.

    From what I’ve read, marriage doesn’t formally change your name in the state of Washington. To formally change your name, you have to go through the court process.

  8. “At RCW 26.60.040 it states the secretary may establish fees to effect registration of the domestic partnership to include changes in NAME. Subsection 4 states the nominal fee cannot exceed $50. ”

    Where do you see name changes?

    BTW Chalu, you can save yourself 7 bucks by going to King county for your name change.


  9. Stinkfoot says:

    You went to a bureaucratic agency and they wanted to charge you more than you think is fair? They are a bunch of morons? Welcome to life Chalu! Obviously your first name is already dialed in, super cool, rolls off the tongue. How much did it cost to change over to that from Walter or Howard or whatever uncool birth name you used to have?

  10. BigSwingingRichard says:

    If you want to change your name with government agencies, shouldn’t you have already legally changed before you apply? If not, I think the word for this is fraud.

    I realize your gripe about this is mostly with same sex marriage, but when someone gets married, it does (or can) legally change someone’s (usually the bride) name.

    Go to court.

    If the reason for the name change is not for fraudulent purposes, it will be approved. Adopted people do it all the time, but do not expect a government agency to side set legal requirements just for you and anyone in your situation.

    BTW: The Tacoma SS office is the federal SS office and the Federal office is saying you need to apply for a legal name change. There is no separate state and federal SS office.

  11. BlaineCGarver says:

    Oh, Good Grief….Stop your whining.

  12. nwcolorist says:

    When I added a middle name (didn’t have one at birth), I went thru the local court system.

  13. Our Constitution says if you are married in one state you are married in all states.

  14. LarryFine says:

    Really ? Throw us a bone…

  15. ItalianSpring says:

    What a big baby whiner. I’ll bet you’re the type of moron that raises hell when banks charge a dollar for withdrawals from ATMs, but have no problem with the fed gov raising your income taxes hundreds of dollars per year. What a loser.

  16. puyallupmutt says:

    Rayford, you are not exactly helping rid the stigma of Greeks. Change your name.

  17. The comments on this letter are unbelievably rude and hateful. and FYI, Chalu is her given name.

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