Everything’s bigger in Texas — including the backwards, archaic douchebaggery. A woman who relocated from California to Texas says the Department of Public Safety refused to issue her an accurate driver’s license because her last name was changed through a same-sex marriage, according to the Texas Observer.
When Connie Wilson married her longtime partner of nine years in California last year, she took her wife’s last name. The name “Wilson” appears on her California driver’s license, Social Security card, and all of the couple’s financial and medical records. In every single sense, “Wilson” is her last name — unless you ask the Texas Department of Public Safety.
The couple relocated to the Houston area with their three children for work. As Wilson’s driver’s license was about to expire, she went to have it renewed — and received a nasty shock. The DPS employee noticed that Wilson’s name, while it appeared properly everywhere else, did not match her birth certificate.
Wilson provided the employee with the couple’s California marriage license, but she could tell there was a problem.
“Her only words to me were, ‘Is this same-[sex]?’” Wilson said. “I remember hesitating for probably 10 seconds. I didn’t know how to answer. I didn’t want to lie, but I knew I was in trouble because I wasn’t going to be able to get a license.”
“She immediately told me, ‘You can’t use this to get your license. This doesn’t validate your last name. Do you have anything else?’” Wilson said. “She told me I would never get a license with my current name, that the name doesn’t belong to me.”
The employee, a supervisor, suggested that Wilson apply for a driver’s license under her maiden name. However, she lacks the needed documentation to do so.
“I’ve been deprived the freedom to drive a vehicle once my current California driver’s license expires,” Wilson said. “I’m further being deprived the freedom to use air travel, make purchases that require a valid photo identification, seek medical attention for myself or my children, as well as other situations that would require proving who I am legally as an individual.”
The supervisor suggested that Wilson obtain a court order “legally” changing her name to Wilson — a suggestion that is both asinine and expensive. The cost would be $500, and Wilson says there is no guarantee the petition would be successful.
“My name is already legally Wilson,” she said. “I don’t know if a judge will even grant me a name change from Wilson to Wilson.”
With the looming expiration of her California driver’s license, Wilson finds herself at risk of experiencing numerous issues — including the inability to obtain disability benefits for one of the couple’s children, who has both autism and Down Syndrome, and their inability to close on a home the couple plans to buy.
“I still can’t believe I’m being met with all the roadblocks that I am,” Wilson said. “For the first time in my life, I in a minuscule way know what it feels like for a person who is undocumented, how terrifying it must be to function in day-to-day life. It terrifies me—I’m a U.S. citizen—the fact that I can’t get something that I’ve had all my life, that I assume is my right. My right was taken away.”
Wilson contacted Equality Texas, who is working with Houston Sen. Sylvia Garcia to resolve the issue.
“This is a disappointing incident and certainly not reflective of Texas hospitality or values,” Equality Texas field organizer Daniel Williams told the Observer. “Equality Texas is working to resolve this matter quickly.”
Paul Townsend, general counsel for Sen. Garcia, said that the DPS is not cooperating. He is currently awaiting a written explanation of the agency’s position before issuing a response. “It’s frustrating because I don’t know what exactly’s going on and DPS is not really being responsive,” Townsend said.
h/t: Daily Kos