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What's in a (Last) Name?

What's in a (Last) Name?


With same-sex marriage on the rise, what will be the new protocol for last names? Does the bottom take the top's last name, or vice versa? Do they hyphenate? If so, whose name goes first? Our parenting writer, Frank Lowe, proposes a much simpler solution.

I was born as Francesco Joseph Willett on September 18, 1976. My parents felt the need to give me an elaborate first "family" name, and it really didn't flow well with my last name. I shortened it to "Franc" growing up, which had me always telling people, "It's Frank but with a c." Not the slightest bit gay at all. When I met my spouse at the age of 21, I loved everything about him, including his last name of "Lowe." Of course I instantly equated it with Rob Lowe, and I vowed that one day I would marry him and take his last name. I did exactly that, but my reason for doing so changed greatly over the years.

We got serious about having a kid when we moved to Connecticut, a little over six years ago. At that time I only had a couple of gay friends who had kids, and they were all doing the hyphenated last name. Some of the kids had insanely long names, which made me examine this more closely.

A few months went by, and we were at an airport, and a lady came on over the loud speaker and said "we need to see all members of the Schmidt family." It made me imagine what they would do in a hyphenated last name situation. She would have to call them up one by one. That isn't atrocious, but it made me question what the problem is with sharing a last name in a gay family.

Then I started thinking about other scenarios -- for instance, if we had a boy, and he got married, would his wife have to take both last names as well? Would it deter her from wanting to do so? Even crazier, what would happen if his hypothetical wife wanted to keep her last name and add his? She would literally have three last names. That shit's crazy. If this kept up, then several generations from now, people could have eight to 10 last names. I decided that I would take my husband's last name of Lowe just to keep things simple.

There was no deep reason for doing this; it was just for the sake of having a simple family last name. He was already a very established professional, so the thought of him taking mine was out of the question. So after we got married, I just submitted the forms and voila, I'm now a Lowe. Also I ditched "Franc" for "Frank" because I was over hearing people pronounce it like "Frah-nk." Frank J. Lowe was born November 16, 2008.

If you are gay and getting married, how are you going to approach the last name conundrum? Answer in the comments section below.

FRANK LOWE is The Advocate's parenting writer. Follow Frank on Twitter @GayAtHomeDad and on Instagram at gayathomedad.

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