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Newlywed Not Allowed To Change Name On License

10:22 AM, Jun 25, 2010   |    comments
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WBIR) -- Traci Turpin of Knoxville married her female partner in Washington DC on Tuesday. Gay marriage is legal in the District of Columbia.

"We had a nice ceremony. Shed some tears and walked away feeling confident and happy," said Turpin.

When they returned back to Knoxville, Turpin visited the Social Security office to have her last name legally changed to that of her partner's.

She then traveled to the Department of Motor Vehicles in West Knoxville to do the same on her driver's license. There were no questions asked and Turpin walked out of the office with her new license in hand.

But before she drove away, an employee of the Department of Motor Vehicles approached her car and asked for the new license back.

"How dare her employee run out to my car, in front of everybody and say, 'You've got to give me the license back, we don't recognize same sex marriage,' out loud," questioned Turpin.

When Turpin refused to return her new license, highway patrolmen were called. Turpin eventually returned the new license and received another with her old last name.

The State Department of Safety requires two documents in order to make such a change on a license: a current license and certified document showing reason for the name change.

For Turpin this was her marriage license. However, Tennessee does not recognize same sex marriages so this document was invalid.

Turpin says that if she had not told employees at the DMV that she was married to a woman, she would still have the license with her new married name. The newlywed now feels defeated and humiliated.

"Yes I understand it's state law. I recognize that. I just want my name to match my social security card," Turpin says.

Tuprin said she does have the option of legally changing her name in court. However, that will cost around $200.

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