W. VA Lesbian Couple Denied Driver’s License with Same Last Name
Cyndee Landis (right) with her wife, Melissa Landis, and their daughter Anne.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — It’s been a year since Cynthia Landis married her partner, Melissa Landis, in the District of Columbia, and since that time Cynthia’s legal last name has been Landis — in fact, it now says so on her Social Security card, her District of Columbia marriage certificate and her Virginia driver’s license.
The problem now is that the Landis’ are moving to West Virginia, and that state refuses to issue Cynthia a drivers license in the name of Landis because she’s married to a woman and state law forbids the agency from recognizing any documents related to asame-sex marriage.
According to West Virginia Motor Vehicle Commissioner Steve Dale, his agency would be glad to issue Cynthia a license in her ex-husband’s last name because, in the state’s eyes, that’s still legally her name, reported the Charleston Gazette.
“I can’t believe that the state has the right to just say, willy-nilly, ‘We’re only going to recognize the legality of the documents we choose and not these.’ It’s ridiculous,” said Landis, who has sent a complaint letter to the governor’s office.
“I’m not asking the state to recognize my marriage,” she said, “but that is the proof that I have that my name has changed.”
Cynthia, 34, and Melissa, 30, married in D.C. in October 2011, and within a month Cynthia was able to obtain a new drivers license and social security card in the state of Virginia, where they resided, using their valid marriage certificate.
But upon moving to rural Hampshire County in West Virginia, state law requires new residents to surrender their old licenses within 30 days and obtain West Virginia cards.
In 2000, at the request of then-Republican Gov. Cecil Underwood, W. Va. lawmakers passed their own version of a Defense of Marriage Act, specifying that the only legal union is one between a man and a woman. That law reads that “public acts, records or judicial proceedings of any other state” regarding a same-sex marriage, “or a right or claim arising from such relationship, shall not be given effect by this state.”
And because of that law, Cynthia Landis is now an illegal driver in West Virginia, even though her Virginia license is valid through 2020.
“If this law were not in effect, we would have taken the marriage certificate on its face value as an official record and used it,” said Dale.
It’s around 11:30 AM on a chilly Saturday in November and a group of about 40 kids are incredibly excited to be in school. That’s not something you’d normally expect, but when it’s a chance to network and meet other LGBTQ youth from around the state, and learn about what they can do to improve [...]November 24, 2015
- Prev Richmond SPCA: Free Pet Adoption For the Rest of the Year
- Next Individual Donors to Marriage Equality Significantly Larger than those who Oppose it
- Back to top
- Dozens of students from as many Virginia school gathered for first annual GSA Conference
- Virginia had 20+ anti-LGBTQ hate crimes in 2014 and a new bill aims to make sure those crimes are reported
- Virginia Rep’s production of ‘Gypsy’ is a joy from beginning to end
- Carytown Small Business Saturday event: Gifts that Give
- RTP’s ‘Christmas on the Rocks’ is the real start to the Holiday season