Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Why we aren't allowed in Canada

Three years ago Petunia and I were legally married in our home state of MA. We changed our names as a result of our marriage. Shortly after we received our marriage license, we filed all the appropriate name-change paperwork: social security, driver's licenses, passport agency, yada yada. All of it went just fine, except at the passport service: We were denied new passports because our name change happened at the time of our marriage. The agency said that DOMA took precedence over state law, so our name change wouldn't be recognized by the passport agency. Fun.

Being us, we looked into legal action and learned it would take years before anyone would be ready to take on DOMA. Our measly passport situation wouldn't work as a good test case, so it was pretty much a no-go. The best advice? Try again later; maybe we'd get a different clerk.

We still haven't tried, so we still can't travel out of the United States. No Canada, no Bermuda, no Bahamas. I'd dearly love to go to PEI, but we can't, at least for now. Until we finalize Hester's adoption, none of us can leave the country.

Fucking DOMA.



Blogger Amelia's Mom said...

If the IRS, a federal - not state - agency, is willing to take your tax money every year and social security is willing to track both of you correctly, then the passport agency ought to be in accordance, too.

Oops, that's logic, and we're talking about the government.

Geez. That sucks. (obviously)

10:39 PM  
Blogger Shirky said...


however. If you DRIVE to (well, from) Canada, there is no passport requirement for US citizens.

Flying, yes.

7:21 AM  
Anonymous j said...

well, until later this year, when all us citizens will be required to have a passport going in and out of Canada.

What intrests me more is the grounds of denial. I can understand them not checking off a "married" box, but people legally change their names all the damn time, and they aren't denied passports because of it.

7:22 AM  
Blogger Hashbrown said...

they said that because of DOMA, the federal definition of marriage voided the name change through marriage. We could change our name again the non-marriage way and then get our passports with the correct name, wait 7 years until it becomes legal in a grandfathering way, or get a passport with our married name as an allies, much in the manner or Cher or some other star. The intersection of state and federal laws creates major havoc for same-sex married couples. It is silly and a waste of our time and tax dollars. If the social security agency accepted our name change as well as the IRS, everyone else should too. Homophobic bastards.

7:51 AM  
Blogger Shirky said...

Well, actually you have until at LEAST end of Jan 2008. Maybe longer, they haven't decided.

8:50 AM  
Blogger Gawdess said...

O M G.
I had no idea.
That sucks.

I am so sorry it makes no sense.
I'm Canadian and think it would be lovely to have Hester and her family in my country.

8:57 AM  
Anonymous Jenny PP said...


Jenny PP

9:18 AM  
Blogger Canada said...

I keep forgetting about the passport issue. And yeah, between Canada and the US for driving you need passports now because the US instituted that one.

I don't get the stupid beaurocratic bullshit that goes on - it's not like you're criminals on the run trying to change your name, for fuck's sakes!!!!!!!!!!

Okay, how about Upper NY state, near Syracuse or Watertown? Than I could drive down for a visit!!!

10:25 AM  
Blogger Shirky said...

you you don't. Not for Driving. Not for Boating. By land or by sea. No passport required for reentry to USA.

It was threatened but stopped and delayed indefinitely.

This is one that I do know about. The bill went through about a month ago.

12:26 PM  
Blogger Psycho Kitty said...

Stupidly stupid. Stupid!!!!!
They'll give a passport to some freak who changes his name to Fish Kill but won't give one to you just because of *when* and *how* you changed it?

Plus, I'm sorry. Your legal names are your legal names!!! How can they deny you a passport in your legal effing NAMES???

12:28 PM  
Blogger Clementine said...

Whoa, who knew the shitty passport service would get y'all so hot and bothered? Thanks for having our backs.

And okay, I know that we're supposed to be able to cross borders freely for now. Except there's this: I was asked for my passport the last time I crossed from Canada into the States, which was 6 years ago. I was relieved to have it on me then, and that was before my (mostly extralegal) marriage and our transracial adoption. I'm such a wuss, but I'd live in fear that someone would take Hester away from us if our paperwork wasn't all matchy-matchy. Paranoid, perhaps, but true. The shit scares the daylights out of me.

1:13 PM  
Anonymous Jenny PP said...

Yeah, I get the paranoia. Remember when we drove to Alaska upon entering Canada they gave my mom a hard time because it was just her and not my dad with all us kids and, well, lots of times divorced parents steal their kids and run to Canada apparently.

It was certainly a strange incident none of us anticipated so I can understand your worry. They're still a bunch of FUCKING FUCKERS though. (The US Passport agency I mean, not Canada.)

2:13 PM  
Blogger Hashbrown said...

They are bastard coated bastards with bastard filling.

2:19 PM  
Blogger Clementine said...

Word, Petunia! Bastard coated bastards indeed.

3:51 PM  
Blogger Abigail said...

This is all ridiculous. I'm so sorry you have to deal with this shit.

I know this probably wouldn't help you feel extra-comfortable and all that, since it's a bit risky, but I'm wondering how my experience after our wedding relates to this: When we got married, I changed my last name to match David's. Three months later, David's grandfather died and we had to fly to Taiwan for the funeral. I had changed my name on my licence, SS, etc., but not my passport. The passport people said it was fine to keep my maiden name passport and use that. They suggested having my marriage certificate with me just in case. No one ever asked for my marriage certificate though. However, I do think that I made my air tickets out in my maiden name. Just thought I'd throw that in there.

Anyway, you shouldn't even have to think about this. The fact that you would either have to be tricky or risk something happening sucks.

5:00 PM  

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