Married same-sex couples not allowed to change last names in TN - WNEM TV 5

Married same-sex couples not allowed to change last names in TN

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When you marry, it is common for a woman to change her last name, but same-sex couples in Tennessee are running into a problem they never expected.

"The state had no problems giving us concealed carry permits. We have a license to carry deadly weapons, but they seem to be scared to death to give us a license to be in love with one another," said John Stovall.

Stovall and Herman Irby have been together now for 20 years.

When they decided to marry in August in New York, where same-sex marriage is legal, and continue to live in Tennessee where it's not, problems began to surface.

For legal reasons since the marriage, Stovall wants to change his last name to Irby on his Tennessee driver's license like any other married couple, but the state won't allow it.

To pack up and leave Tennessee is out of the question.

"I have been here for five years. Tennessee is known to be one of the best places to retire in the nation. It has a great climate, not too hot and not too cold," Stovall said.

They are stuck in a bureaucratic maze, a marriage recognized in one state but illegal in another.

Since the federal government recognizes same-sex unions, Stovall was allowed a name change on his Social Security card. But as long as the couple remains in Tennessee, that is where the legality ends.

Chris Sanders of the Tennessee Equality Project says because of sexual preference, the couple's civil rights are being violated.

"It's perplexing in a lot of ways, but it just is testament to the fact that we need to continue to work to overturn the marriage amendment in Tennessee," said Sanders.

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