JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - The American Civil Liberties Union says the Mississippi Department of Public Safety discriminates against men who want to use a marriage certificate to change their names the way women can.
The ACLU of Mississippi wrote a letter to DPS Commissioner Albert Santa Cruz on Tuesday. It says Robert Everhart, formerly Robert McCarthy, was turned down at DPS offices in Biloxi, D'Iberville and Pascagoula when he tried use a marriage certificate to take his wife's last name after their wedding in October of last year.
The ACLU says Everhart had no trouble changing his name with the Social Security Administration. He took his marriage certificate and the new Social Security card to three DPS offices. He said officials told him he'd have to get a court order because a husband's name change was "not traditional," the ACLU said.
Amelia McGowan, staff attorney at the ACLU of Mississippi, said the policy violates state and federal law. The letter told DPS to respond within 10 days to avoid legal action.
A DPS spokesman didn't immediately respond to a message Tuesday.
"My wife and I made a decision as a family that I would adopt her surname," Everhart said in a news release issued by the ACLU. "This personal decision should not be subject to the old-fashioned ideas at DPS. It is the principal of it; no one but my wife and I should decide what our family will be called."
The ALCU contends that the Mississippi statute clearly says "his or her" when outlining what can be used to change a person's name. The statute lists marriage or divorce records, court orders or birth certificate.
"It is shocking that in the year 2012 Mississippi officials continue to follow outmoded and discriminatory practices," said Bear Atwood, Legal Director at the ACLU. "Following 'tradition' does not provide a legitimate reason for DPS to violate state law and the Equal Protection Clause."