A Florida man who decided to take his wife's last name discovered that the state's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) suspected him of fraud as a result. Florida, along with most U.S. states, only provides a simple method for women to change their names upon marriage. A few states, including California, allow spouses of any gender to take the other spouse's name. While a wife taking her husband's name is a longstanding tradition, many couples are finding other options.
According to Reuters, Lazaro Dinh, née Sopena, married Hanh Dinh in 2011. In an "act of love," he decided to take her last name to preserve her family's name. His wife, who is originally from Vietnam, reportedly lived in refugee camps with her sisters, spending seven years separated from their father, before immigrating to the United States in 1990.
After the wedding, Dinh was able to obtain a new driver's license from the Florida DMV by showing his marriage certificate to a clerk and paying a fee. This is the procedure followed by newlywed women all over the country. He also obtained a passport showing his married name. In December 2012, over a year after the wedding, Dinh reportedly received a letter from the DMV, addressed to Lazaro Dinh, that accused him of fraud. It stated that the DMV would suspend his license within weeks.
Dinh called the main DMV office in Tallahassee and spoke to an official who told him he should go through the non-marital name change process. This requires a petition to a court with a $400 filing fee. The DMV official allegedly told Dinh that the marital name change process "only works for women." At a hearing on January 14, the DMV issued a Final Order holding that his license suspension for "fraud" was proper. Dinh is appealing the order, but remains unable to drive.