Florida has threatened to revoke a same-sex couple’s driving privileges after they updated their driver’s licenses with their married surname.
After 10 years together, Scott and Daniel Wall-Desousa recently married in New York City and subsequently updated their Social Security cards with their new hyphenated surname last month, reports The New Civil Rights Movement.
Shortly thereafter, Daniel went to a Brevard County Department of Motor Vehicles office with his updated Social Security card and New York marriage license, and was issued a new Florida driver’s license with “no hassle,” according to local TV station WFTV.
But when his husband, Scott, went to a different DMV to update his last name, he was told that his New York marriage license was not a legal document in Florida, which does not perform or recognize same-sex marriages. After what the couple says was “months” of going back and forth with DMV officials, Scott attempted to change his last name at a different DMV office, this time in Orlando, and was able to do so with his Social Security card and New York marriage license.
“She said as of July of this year there have been changes in our policy and here is your new name,” Scott told WFTV of his encounter with an Orlando DMV employee.
The couple’s ultimate success in changing their names in their home state made news, as the Wall-Desousas were possibly the first same-sex couple to accomplish such a change in Florida. Because of this, WFTV ran a story detailing the couple’s winding road to legal recognition — including a statement from the press secretary of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles confirming that “same-sex marriage certificates that are issued by other states are not recognized as valid in Florida and cannot be used as proof of identity.”
Less than weeks after that story ran, the newlyweds received a letter from the Florida DMV.
“It ... notified me that my driving privileges will be canceled indefinitely as of November 22,” Daniel Wall-Desousa told WFTV. The letter was adressed to both men by their new, hyphenated last name.
Scott believes the letter was sent to the couple as retaliation after they went to local media to discuss the difficulties they had securing a legal name change.
“It is a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy,” Scott told WFTV. “And I guess we have been told, ‘Here is the repercussion.'”
The couple said they plan to file a lawsuit against the state, alleging discrimination based on their sexual orientation and because they went public with their name change.