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Florida Revokes Gay Couple’s Drivers Licenses


By Matt Baume

More victories this week in some very conservative states. We’re now closer than ever to the start of marriage in Arkansas and Mississippi. Florida is refusing to issue drivers’ licenses to a couple after they married and changed their last name. And support for marriage has skyrocketed in Wyoming.

This week’s big wins were in Arkansas and Mississippi. In both states, Federal District Court judges ruled that marriage bans are unconstitutional. But they also imposed a stay on their decisions so that the states will have time to appeal. Both of those appeals are going to be a little complicated. The Arkansas case will go to the Eighth Circuit, but there’s also a separate marriage case before the Arkansas Supreme Court right now. They could rule at any time, and it’s hard to say how that decision would affect the federal case.

In Mississippi, the case will go to the Fifth Circuit. Oral argument is already scheduled for early January in the Fifth Circuit for cases in Louisiana and Texas. So if the state moves fast, the Mississippi case might join them. Attorney General Jim Hood and Governor Phil Bryant have already filed a notice of appeal.

There’s a new lawsuit in Florida. The state cancelled the drivers’ licenses of a gay couple after they married in New York and hyphenated their last name. Even though it’s their new legal name, the state of Florida is refusing to recognize it, so they’ve sued. Over in Wyoming, a new survey shows support for marriage equality is up to 53% to 39% opposed. That’s a big jump from ten years ago, when support was just 24%. And in Michigan, Attorney General Bill Schuette has asked the Supreme Court not to take up a marriage case, and allow the state’s marriage ban to remain in place. The Supreme Court could make a decision about whether to hear the Michigan case any day now.


  • 1. davepCA  |  December 1, 2014 at 10:17 am

    A question about that drivers license issue in Florida – people legally change their name all the time, for reasons other than getting legally married and choosing to take on the name of their spouse (either by replacing their last name entirely or hyphenating the names). A legal name change and a civil marriage certificate are two separate things. So on what basis can the state of Florida possibly deny or revoke a drivers license based on someone changing their name? It has absolutely nothing to do with the state recognizing their legal marriage. It is merely recognizing their legal names, and the couple could have just as easily changed their names without being legally married. Any idea what possible rationale the state could be giving for its actions other than the illogical excuse of 'we will not recognize their marriage' ?

  • 2. Zack12  |  December 1, 2014 at 10:21 am

    There isn't one.
    They are doing this just to be petty.

  • 3. sfbob  |  December 1, 2014 at 10:21 am

    Ever since this issue surfaced I'd been thinking that very same thing. It is a bit like the portion of Virginia's marriage equality ban which appeared to invalidate the sorts of legal contracts that anyone could enter into: they were banned only IF they were intended to provide some of the incidents of marriage. Given that people can put someone in a will, make a person the beneficiary of their family trust, give them a medical power of attorney and so on for any number of reasons, how could it possibly be constitutional for a state to take punitive action against something that would otherwise be entirely within the law?

  • 4. Zack12  |  December 1, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    Because gay people are icky or something like that.

  • 5. sfbob  |  December 1, 2014 at 8:35 pm

    The legal version of what you said is that it's clear evidence of animus. It singles out a specific and identifiable class for disparate and arguably punitive treatment based principally on the fact that that class exhibits characteristics which the majority do not approve of.

  • 6. BenG1980  |  December 1, 2014 at 10:26 am

    In most states, there are various ways to complete a legal name change. One way involves only the name change itself and is usually a long, drawn-out process that requires public notice, etc. A second, easier and faster way is through marriage licensure. A third way is through a divorce decree.

    In this case, I assume the only documentation of the name change is the New York marriage license itself, and the change was not the result of a separate legal proceeding. Florida is therefore refusing to recognize the license as proof of either the marriage or the name change.

    Although Florida is being ridiculous, there should be a way to work around the non-recognition issue in this context. The two spouses could get passports and social security cards in their new legal names since the federal government recognizes their marriage. They could then use these documents as identification (instead of their birth certificates, which require the proof of name change) to obtain their new drivers licenses.

  • 7. bythesea66  |  December 1, 2014 at 11:52 am

    IIRC in other similar incidents, often even if the couple had already changed their names with Social Security the offending state still refused (for example in TN). I don't know if that's the case with FL.

  • 8. BenG1980  |  December 1, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    Yes, that's why they would need both passports and social security cards issued to them in their new married names. Having both would eliminate the need for their birth certificates since the State Department would have already verified that information when issuing the passports. And eliminating the need for their birth certificates would eliminate the need to use their marriage license as proof of their name changes.

  • 9. RnL2008  |  December 1, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    Before my wife and I got married, she wanted to change her name to mine…, I went and tried to do it like I had changed mine with a legal name change NOT going through the courts(pre9-11). It worked for DMV, but not for Social Security……she basically became a non-person for a bit as she had one name on her California I.D card and another name on her Social Security card and DMV WOULDN'T change it back without the proper papers…, we had to pay the money for her divorce decree from Oregon to ger her name changed back to the one on her Social Security card in order to get our marriage application/license and then we got married and she officially used our marriage license as the document needed to change her name….hell, the guy from Social Security even asked her if she wanted a shorter name……but she didn't and it was done, but it really wasn't that easy to do……especially after 9-11.

  • 10. Steve84  |  December 2, 2014 at 10:15 am

    Remember that these clowns think state law trumps federal law. So they don't care about the federal government recognizing a same-sex marriage.

    Also, passports cost money. Cheaper and easier than a court order, but still requires work and money.

  • 11. Lymis  |  December 2, 2014 at 11:55 am

    Doesn't look like a federal passport would be enough. I reference it below, but they need a document specifically about the name change AS WELL as proof of identity. The passport would cover the second requirement, but not the documentation of the name change.….

  • 12. Lymis  |  December 2, 2014 at 11:50 am

    As much as I disagree with the Florida law on the matter, they are following it. A lot of commenters are just making assumptions about how they think things ought to be rather than what the law actually is. I agree that the law should be different, but it doesn't appear that it is.

    The Florida DMV website <a href="http://(” target=”_blank”>( clearly states the requirements for getting a new license with a new name:

    You will need:

    A completed Application for a Social Security Card (Form SS-5).
    Your certified name-change document, such as your:
    Marriage certificate.
    Divorce decree.
    Court order.

    Proof of your identity, such as your:
    U.S. driver’s license.
    U.S. passport.
    State-issued ID card.

    Proof of your U.S. citizenship, such as your:
    U.S. birth certificate.
    Certificate of citizenship.
    Certificate of naturalization.

    IN ADDITION to their changed Social Security Card – which in fact they need – they ALSO need either a court order documenting the name change or a validly recognized marriage certificate (or a divorce decree, which doesn't apply to them.) Since Florida does not recognize their out of state marriage, the certificate they can supply is not valid for the new driver's licenses.

    Presumably they could spend the $500+ for a court order and criminal background check, but I agree, they should not have to. Of course, all other discrimination aside, Florida is now forcing them to use names other than their Federally recognized legal names, which potentially could open them to accusations of fraud, if not just heaps of unnecessary paperwork because of the state/federal mismatch. For example, now their US passports would nave different names than their state drivers' licenses. Since Florida doesn't have state income tax, they are at least spared the problem of not having their name match on their state and federal income filings.

  • 13. Jen_in_MI  |  December 1, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    Bill Schuette, I absolutely loathe you. You are a horrible person.

  • 14. Alphazip  |  December 1, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    Except Matt Baume is wrong. Schuette did NOT ask SCOTUS not to take up the Michigan marriage case. Just the opposite, he asked SCOTUS to take up the case and affirm the ruling of the 6th Circuit.

  • 15. Ryan K (a.k.a. KELL)  |  December 1, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    He's still a jerk.

  • 16. Alphazip  |  December 1, 2014 at 3:17 pm

    Yep, all 3 branches of Michigan government are controlled by Republicans. Several years ago the legislature even passed a law stating that a funeral home must honor the wishes of the deceased's next-of-kin, and ignore the deceased's own written instructions (such as in a will) if there is a conflict! The purpose of the law was obviously to prevent a person's partner (or other chosen representative) from making burial decisions. If that isn't animus, then the word has no meaning.

  • 17. hopalongcassidy  |  December 1, 2014 at 3:06 pm

    I'm sure Matt is a very nice guy and that he means well but he sure does get a lot of things wrong. It looks a lot as if he's more interested in being first than being right.

  • 18. franklinsewell  |  December 1, 2014 at 4:46 pm

    Yeah … but he can't really even be first, because he only does his videos once a week on Mondays.

    His videos are also posted, writ large, across multiple gay news websites, and so, my opinion is he should work harder to get the facts straight.

  • 19. Mike_Baltimore  |  December 1, 2014 at 5:06 pm

    I guess Jorge Rodriguez-Jimenez and the 'Advocate' got it wrong?

    "Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette filed a brief Monday continuing his hard-line approach to defending the state's marriag[e] ban.

    "He asked the U.S. Supreme Court to allow Michigan's 2004 voter-approved marriage ban to remain in tact, essentially arguing the justices should keep out of it. Schuette writes that by taking up a legal challenge to the ban, the Supreme Court would be impeding on citizens' right to vote."
    (… )

  • 20. Swifty819  |  December 1, 2014 at 5:24 pm

    His petition is "In Support of a Writ" of Cert

  • 21. Alphazip  |  December 1, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    I'm not saying that Schuette is in favor of marriage equality. I'm not saying that he's a nice guy. I'm only stating the obvious, that he wants the Supreme Court to take up the DeBoer case and wants the justices to uphold his view that states can decide for themselves (by popular votes, etc.) whether to ban same-sex marriage.

    If Jorge or Matt think this means that Schuette is arguing that cert should not be granted, then they're ignoring the plain language of the brief and they're wrong.

    From SCOTUSBLOG: "Michigan supports prompt review of same-sex marriage"

    "Although in favor of early review by the Justices, state officials continued to defend their ban, arguing that the Sixth Circuit got it right in declaring that the question should be left to the will of a state’s voters."

    "Schuette files brief urging U.S. Supreme Court to take gay marriage case":

    Schuette Urges Supreme Court To Take Gay Marriage Case

  • 22. Mike_Baltimore  |  December 2, 2014 at 11:37 am

    I'm not saying Schuette is NOT telling SCOTUS to take up the case. I (and many others) say he wants SCOTUS to rule in such a manner that upholds the 6CA ruling that state laws on marriage take precedent.

    Besides, he didn't voluntarily respond to the plaintiffs, but was forced to respond by court rules. In effect, if he didn't respond, he would have forfeited and automatically would have lost the case.

  • 23. BenG1980  |  December 2, 2014 at 11:43 am

    Yes, he needed to respond. I don't think anyone disputes that. However, he was not forced to agree with our side in supporting a grant of cert. Obviously he wants SCOTUS to uphold the Sixth Circuit's decision if it does grant cert, but Schuette also could have opposed the granting of cert altogether.

  • 24. almostfamous734  |  December 1, 2014 at 1:23 pm

    Can someone refresh my memory… When does SCOTUS have their next conference? And will DeBoer v Snyder be up for consideration on that date, now that Michigan filed their response?

  • 25. scream4ever  |  December 1, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    Their next conference is this Friday, 12/5. I believe the case is now ready, unless our side needs to file a reply brief, but that should be in by then anyways.

  • 26. Zack12  |  December 1, 2014 at 2:45 pm

    Indeed, although from what I've heard they can take it up by January and still issue a ruling by June.

  • 27. Raga  |  December 1, 2014 at 10:38 pm

    According to the case distribution schedule, the earliest that DeBoer would normally be distributed is for their January 9 conference:

    This is because, the deadline for our side to have filed or waived a reply in order for the petition to be considered for the December 12 conference was November 25, and they missed it.

  • 28. Zack12  |  December 2, 2014 at 2:41 am

    Let's hope they've done it since then, I'd rather not have only out of state bans addressed.

  • 29. Raga  |  December 2, 2014 at 7:27 am

    They don't have to do anything, because the reply is optional. Michigan's response was files November 24, so if our side doesn't file a reply by December 8, they've lost their chance to do so, and filings in the petition will be considered complete and ready for January 9. But I'm sure they will file a reply soon. If not, I'll be really pissed, because they could have just waived it last week and had the petition ready sooner.

  • 30. Wolf of Raging Fires  |  December 2, 2014 at 5:03 am

    WTF? They had no good reason to miss it. They're slacking. >.<

  • 31. Waxr  |  December 1, 2014 at 1:28 pm

    Here's a website which has additional details on the Florida couple who had their drivers licenses cancelled:

  • 32. davepCA  |  December 1, 2014 at 1:57 pm

    BAH! After having no problem viewing the site properly for the last couple of days (including just a few minutes ago), I'm suddenly now once again getting the mobile version on my computer. BUT – only when I click on the newest article. The home page is fine, and clicking on older articles is fine. It changes to the mobile version when I select the newest article, or click on 'comments' under the newest article.

  • 33. davepCA  |  December 1, 2014 at 2:00 pm

    …. and after this problem occurred on three consecutive attempts to access the site just now, it suddenly works fine again on the fourth attempt….. ???

  • 34. davepCA  |  December 1, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    Argh!! And now thirty minutes later, EVERY page on the site is now giving me the mobile version, including the main page….. ?!?

  • 35. RnL2008  |  December 1, 2014 at 2:41 pm

    I have had the same thing happen to me, and just when I make a comment about it…poof, it changes back to this format…….ugh!!!

  • 36. bayareajohn  |  December 1, 2014 at 3:03 pm

    Same here. Back and forth.

  • 37. sfbob  |  December 1, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    I had the opposite happen: top article was fine but when I clicked on any of the comments to other articles the mobile version came up. And then it came up for everything, and then the site went down for a couple of minutes…I sent a message to the techs.

  • 38. RnL2008  |  December 2, 2014 at 10:20 am

    I know….click in this thread everything is fine, click in the new thread and it;s in mobile version…ugh!!!

  • 39. Ryan K (a.k.a. KELL)  |  December 1, 2014 at 3:03 pm

    I'm very glad to have read this regarding the Notorious RBG on SCOTUSblog:

  • 40. Wolf of Raging Fires  |  December 1, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    Does anyone here have a link to the SCOTUS docket entry for the Michigan case?

  • 41. franklinsewell  |  December 1, 2014 at 4:45 pm

  • 42. Wolf of Raging Fires  |  December 1, 2014 at 4:47 pm

    Thank you!!

  • 43. scream4ever  |  December 1, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    You should be able to find it here:

  • 44. Wolf of Raging Fires  |  December 1, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    Scream, I just saw your link. Thank you also!

  • 45. F_Young  |  December 2, 2014 at 7:36 am

    This is big.

    EU Countries Banned From Requiring LGBT Asylum Seekers To “Prove” Their Sexuality

  • 46. RnL2008  |  December 2, 2014 at 10:21 am

    Exactly how does one do that? By having sex with those folks looking? Disgusting!!!

  • 47. Wolf of Raging Fires  |  December 2, 2014 at 11:26 am

    Yeah, I've never understood that one and I don't want to…ugh.

  • 48. Steve84  |  December 2, 2014 at 10:12 am

    This is what happens when you give even a little bit of power to petty bureaucrats. They let it get to their head and get off in terrorizing people.

  • 49. Wolf of Raging Fires  |  December 2, 2014 at 10:31 am

    BAHAHA! Ahh. Keep it up, troll.

  • 50. RnL2008  |  December 2, 2014 at 1:00 pm

    Okay…..question……why does EVERYTHING we do need to be preference with "GAY",
    "SAME-SEX MARRIAGE" or the other stuff that we do? We don't go out to eat "GAY" food, nor go to the "SAME-SEX MOVIES" nor does ANYTHING else we do need to be in reference to our Sexual Orientation.

    I'm just a woman who is a Lesbian and married to my wife….we don't drive a "LESBIAN" car or wear "LESBIAN" clothing…we are just normal people who do the same thing as any other person alive EXCEPT when we marry or go to bed……..just don't get why everything has to be made a bigger deal out of it than is necessary!!!

  • 51. flyerguy77  |  December 3, 2014 at 11:53 am

    BREAKING 11TH Circuit just denied a stay from Florida..

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