Do gay people change their names when they get married?
I live in Massachusetts, where gay marriage is legal, and I’m confused as to how gays and lesbians decide what family name to go by. I know it’s only been a couple of years since gay marriage became legal, but is there a “new” tradition?
Certainly, the predominant custom to date for same-sex couples is for each to keep his or her name, but this is by no means always the case. There are actually a number of other choices open to us, too — none of which I imagine will shock you.
By the way, it’s worth noting that when a lesbian or gay couple does make a name change (or two), it has little to do with the type of religious or civil ceremony they choose — or whether or not the marriage is legal in the eyes of the government. If anything, it reflects a couple’s views on the symbolic component of a family name, which is to say their public identity.
Here are the four basic options available:
Now, to answer the question you didn’t ask: How do you know what name they will go by? If it’s not clear from their stationery or a newspaper wedding announcement, or if they haven’t said anything, don’t be shy — ask!
Confused about coming out, dating, sex, and love? Find all the answers here - makes a great reference guide for you, and a great gift for the straight people in your life who need a little guidance.
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