Melbourne – A same-sex Central Florida couple may have both their drivers’ licenses cancelled because they legally changed their names with their out-of-state marriage licenses.
“Florida is a federal REAL ID compliant state, which means the Department can only accept specific documentation as proof of identity and legal name when issuing a driver license,” said Fla. DMV Press Secretary John Lucas in a statement. “While marriage certificates are acceptable documents, same-sex marriages are not recognized by the state and, therefore, a same-sex marriage certificate is not considered as a legal basis for a name change on a Florida driver license.”
Scott and Daniel Wall-DeSousa said they received a letter from the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles on Nov. 8 notifying them of the indefinite cancellation of their licenses.
The couple was married in New York City in December 2013. On returning to Florida, Daniel checked the statues, and they said the couple had 10 days to change their names on any legal documents. Daniel went to the social security office and changed his name. He then took that social security card and marriage certificate from State of New York to the tax collector’s office in Brevard County and was printed a new license. Once his license was changed, he changed all other legal documents to reflect his now legal name.
Scott went about the same process, but at a different office close to his job. It was at this DMV location that a woman told him that his marriage certificate wasn’t considered a legal document in the State of Florida. Scott called the DMV to figure out how to change his last name, and he was informed that since July 2013 there was a new form in the DMV’s system that he could fill out to have the changes made. He went to a DMV location in Orlando, followed the guidelines stated to fill out the form and presented his documentation to have it changed. From Scott’s understanding, as long as he didn’t mention it was a same-sex relationship, it could be done because the clerk couldn’t ask him.
WFTV Channel 9 spoke to both men about it for a story.
“After we did speak to Channel 9, within five days we both received a letter at our home the same day that pretty much states that this is to notify you that you driving privileges have been cancelled for a period of indefinitely as of Nov. 25, 2014,” Daniel said.
The letters informed the couple that they had until Nov. 25 to comply or have their licenses indefinitely cancelled. The letter informed them they could present their passports with their names on it or summon a petition to get a court order—but both ways would exceed the 20-day window the Florida DMV gave them to comply by supporting other documentation.
“When it is brought to the Department’s attention that a credential has been issued using documents not legally recognized by the state, the agency is obligated to recall that credential,” Lucas said. “The individual can go to any driver license or Tax Collector’s office and obtain a valid driver license at no cost.”
Both have had their last names changed on other documents, including their social security cards, bank statements and work identification badges.
“To be quite honest, I don’t know if I’m willing to give up my last name,” Daniel said. “I would almost rather keep the last name that I have and love and changed because I’m in love than my privilege to drive at this point.”
The letters were mailed Nov. 5 from the DMV in Tallahassee was received by the couple Nov. 8, giving the couple a 20-day period to comply with the DMV or face their licenses being cancelled. Incidentally, both letters were addressed using the hyphenated last name.
“In the last paragraph of the letter it says ‘Therefore, we are unable to change your last name to match your spouse’s,’” Daniel said. “And I look at that and say ‘Well, are they acknowledging the fact Scott is my spouse?’ Because spouse has a legal definition of one to whom you are married.”
The couple is currently seeking legal representation and figuring out the next steps in how to prevent their licenses from being cancelled as the Nov. 25 deadline looms closer. Scott has tried to call and reach out to the DMV the past couple days and said they’ve been of little help.
“The feeling that I got was as if there was a written statement that they were to say and that was all they were to say to me, and that statement was very simple that the license was obtained with an inaccurate document because the document they say is not a legal document in the state,” Scott said.
Both believe that they are being discriminated against. Daniel said by now, because it has been a year and most documents of his have been changed, it would be more difficult to prove he was ever Daniel DeSousa than Daniel Wall-DeSousa.
“Even if I do have to go back to have my maiden name and Dan has to go back to his maiden name, if they do enforce all of that, this all has been brought to light,” Scott said. “There is a policy that is wrong in our community and needs to be addressed. Every time someone stands up for what they believe, whether they have repercussions or not, they’re doing the right thing.”
From our media partner Watermark