Newlyweds Brianna Hoskins and Crystal Reese had to travel from Michigan to New York in order to be legally married.
Even though they now have a marriage certificate, they still aren't able to share the same last name.
In a WJBK-TV report, Hoskins said she was able to change her name at the social security office without issue after she and Reese married in New York. But when she went to her local Secretary of State office with her marriage license and new documentation, Hoskins e was allegedly assigned a six month probationary period before her name could be changed. The name-changing process is seamless when opposite gender couples in Michigan go to the Secretary of State's office, whether the woman takes the man's name or vice versa.
"What are we on probation for -- for being gay?" Reese asked.
Michigan is one of 35 states in America that ban gay marriage outright, after voters in 2004 approved an amendment that defined marriage as "the union of one man and one woman" only.
Fred Woodhams, communication manager for Michigan's Secretary of State, told The Huffington Post in an email that out-of-state same-sex marriage licenses can't be accepted as valid documents in Michigan. Woodhams said that no couple, gay or straight, is subject to an actual "probationary period," however.
If same-sex couples get married in other states and want to change their names, they have to follow the same procedures available to other residents who change their names, Woodhams said: either a common law name change, where they demonstrate using the name for six months before seeking change, or by receiving a court order.
Hoskins and Reese aren't alone. In December, MLive shared the story of Jesse Melot. He too traveled to New York to marry his now-husband. But when he returned to Michigan, two separate Secretary of State offices denied his request to change his name. His New York marriage license doesn't specify that he's in a gay marriage: Melot argues he was profiled based on the license listing two male-sounding names.
"My certificate doesn't say 'same-sex.' It just says marriage," Melot told MLive. "But they see the names, and they're discriminating against me."
Michigan couples with valid same-sex marriages in other states could run into more headaches come tax time, as they are eligible to file joint federal tax returns but must still file separate state tax returns.
A trial beginning next month in Michigan could overturn the state's gay marriage ban once and for all. Two Michigan nurses are challenging the state’s ban on same-sex marriage and adoption. April DeBoer, 42, and Jayne Rowse, 48, have three children between them, but the women cannot legally be considered parents of the children to whom they didn't give birth. The trial in that case, before U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman, begins Feb. 25.