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Social Security accepts some Utah same-sex marriage certificates for name change

According to the Denver regional commissioner of the Social Security Administration, whose region covers Utah and five other states, a policy update was published that instructs offices in Utah to accept marriage certificates from same-sex couples, but only those issued after Oct. 6, when the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would not hear Utah’s appeal of the Kitchen v. Herbert case.

Social Security Administration Denver Regional Commissioner Sean Brune“Today we published policy update RM10212.035, Evidence of Name Change based on a US Same-Sex Marriage,” Commissioner Sean Brune wrote in an email. “This update instructs our offices to accept marriage documents issued to same-sex couples for marriages that took place on 10/6/2014 or later by jurisdictions (town, county or State) in the State of Utah as evidence of a name change. We are still awaiting instruction on marriage documents issued in Utah prior to 10/6/2014.”

Last week, Austin and James Vance, who were legally married back in December of 2013, hand-delivered a letter from their attorney to the Salt Lake City Social Security office, notifying them that if they did not grant their legal benefits and issue them new social security cards with their new names, as they are required to do for married couples, the office could face a federal constitutional rights lawsuit.

“The law on this issue has been clearly established for 15 months, giving the agency ample opportunity to correct its discriminatory practices,” attorney Danielle Hawkes wrote on behalf of tha Vances. “In June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court in United States v. Windsor held that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, […] On October 6, 2014, the United Supreme Court refused to hear Utah’s appeal of the Kitchen v. Herbert case. At that point, the 10th Circuit’s holding became law for the State of Utah.”

Brune wrote that obtaining additional guidance “will continue to be a priority.”

Michael Aaron

Michael Aaron is the editor and publisher of QSaltLake. He has been active in Utah's gay and lesbian community since the early 80s and published two publications then and in the 90s.

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One Comment

  1. Well, that would be interesting. We already had legal name changes federally, but Utah refused to recognize them. When we got married here in December, the state again refused to give us drivers licenses with our real names. As soon as the ruling came down last Monday, we went to the DMV and immediately got our new Utah licenses. And those new licenses with our new ames were from December 2013. So how does THAT work?

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