Judge Reverses on Lesbian Name Change

BY Michelle Garcia

January 13 2011 3:45 PM ET

A circuit court judge in Virginia, who originally ruled in October
that a woman could not take the last name of her lesbian partner,
reversed that decision, ruling that her name change could go
forward.

Leigh Anne Ruth Hunter and her partner, Jennifer Beth Surber, both petitioned to use Hunter as their middle name and Surber as their last name. Judge C. Randall Lowe originally ruled that Surber could change her name but rejected Hunter's filing because while “the petitioner and her partner to hold themselves out as a married couple,” same-sex marriage is banned in Virginia. Therefore, Lowe ruled that the name was requested "for fraudulent purposes."

The couple have been together for eight years and are raising a daughter together. They wanted to share the name to reflect their solidarity as a family, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, which represented them in court.

The couple filed again in November to revisit their proposed name change. ACLU of Virginia legal director Rebecca Glenberg argued that the name change did not violate the state's marriage law because it did not give either of the women any of the responsibilities or benefits that marriage would institute.

Lowe wrote Friday, reconsidering his October opinion, “the Court finds the name change would not be made for a fraudulent purpose and reverses the prior findings of the Court.”

The name change will take effect after the judge signs a final order, which is expected shortly, according to the ACLU.







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