Wednesday, July 18, 2007

name changes

sorry for my long absence. an absence of air conditioning and a reliable internet connection have kept me away.

today i received the annual report of the alternatives to marriage project, an organization that advocates "for equality and fairness for unmarried people, including people who are single, who choose not to marry, cannot marry, or live together before marriage." alternatives to marriage project is one of the few organizations i give financial support to on a regular basis.

but today i'm not going to write about discrimination against unmarried people. instead i'm going to tell you about one (of many) of the bureaucratic/legal parts of marriage that make me glad i chose a different path. the feminist majority foundation reports that only six states allow men to take their wives last names on the marriage application. men can go through the process that anyone uses if they want to make a legal name change, but this is much more expensive than just doing it on the marriage application.

i believe in the power of naming. that names can signify togetherness, bonds, commitment, love, a familial relationship. names can also give a sense of identity, and when taken away feel like a loss of identity. so why is it that heterosexual couples are often brow beaten into a decision which means the wife takes the husband's last name? there are many reasons why a couple might choose to share the wife's last name instead of the husband's. i think hyphenation is a great short-term solution. but what if your child grows up and gets married? what if they get married to another person with a hyphenated last name?

if anyone has thoughts on the matter of naming, i'd love to hear them. leave me a comment or send me an email. if you are married or partnered, how did you make your decision?
i'll be back after i return from my long awaited vacation.