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Can same-sex couples who move to Texas get driver's licenses?

As we've noted in previous posts, there have been legal challenges to Texas' ban on same-sex marriage, but so far to no avail. After the first of the year, an appeals court will hear a case that contends that our state's ban on these marriages in unconstitutional.

Texas' failure to recognize same-sex marriages as legal has caused problems for couples who married in other states and then moved to Texas. One issue is something that is fairly mundane to most people -- getting a driver's license.

A 48-year-old man who moved from Iowa to just outside Austin this fall found that getting a Texas driver's license was not as easy as he thought it would be. When he went in to get his license, he brought his Iowa marriage license and his birth certificate. (Iowa legalized same-sex marriage in 2009.) However, he was told that he could not obtain a license unless he changed his name via a court order or got a divorce.

The patchwork of states where same-sex marriage is legally recognized is ever-changing, but growing thanks to recent federal court decisions. However, for same-sex married couples living in states like Texas where the ban remains in place, things can be complicated. States where same-sex marriage is not legal are not obligated to recognize such marriages from states where it is.

Recently a couple sued Florida's motor vehicle department over a driver's license issue. However, so far, no one has taken the issue to court in Texas. According to the state's Department of Public Safety, people can present proof of name change by presenting a court order, marriage license or divorce decree. However, it notes: "Because the state of Texas does not recognize same-sex marriage, DPS cannot accept same-sex marriage licenses."

Within our state, politicians and judges have varied opinions on the matter. Until it is settled once and for all by the U.S. Supreme Court or within the state, the same-sex couples who move here to Texas for work or family reasons will have to fight these battles that their heterosexual friends do not.

Beyond being able to get a driver's license, they may find themselves fighting for inheritance, property rights, child custody and support or any of a number of family law issues. An experienced Texas family law attorney can provide guidance amid the ever-changing landscape of same-sex marriage in this country.

Source: The Des Moines Register, "Same-sex marriage license from Iowa poses problem in Texas" Lee Rood, Dec. 07, 2014

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