My wife and I have been legally married for almost one year, but I took her last name when we fist signed our domestic partnership papers almost four years ago now. And since then I've thought a lot about taking her name because people have had a lot of different reactions to that simple fact.
First of all, I think I want to mention that in my last life as a confused straight girl, when I was dating boys, I swore up and down that I would never take his name. (Any he) I'm my father's only child, and I told myself that was why I never wanted to take another man's name. But then when I married my wife, I wanted nothing more then to take her name. Actually, I hyphenated it, as a tribute to my father I always want to have his name. But that didn't take away from the fact that I was willing to take the name of another person for my own, in fact, I couldn't wait to be her Mrs. I realized then that I was never able to see myself taking anyone else's last name because it was never true love before.
I took her last name for a few reasons and in spite of a few others. But the main reason was that as a lesbian couple, having the same last name is the fastest way to signify to the public that we are legally family and that's something that means the world to me. I used to feel more like an "independent woman" type of vibe, and didn't want to "give up my identity" a sentiment I hear from a lot of women now days. But for me, taking my wife's last name was a combination of romance and politics. I've noticed a definite change in people when they realize we have the same last name, there's no more questioning. It's loud and clear: We're legally married and everyone has to recognize that, regardless of their personal opinions.
I recently read two separate blog posts by recently married women around my age, writing about why they didn't take their spouses last name. One is heterosexual and one is gay. I know both of them in real life, so it was weird and sort of insulting to read what they think about women who take their spouses last name and I want to address that.
They both mention that they're independent women and refuse to lose their identity by taking their spouses' last name. Fine, that's your business. But my identity and independence have nothing to do with my last name. In fact, I was actually exercising my independence by choosing to change my name, knowing full well it would have a real impact on how the world perceived me. I chose my wife's name because she supports me in every way and while it may not sound like the most modern thing to say, she deserves it! We talked about this before our marriage and she told me that as a little kid, she never ever thought of taking anyone else's last name because she's known she was a lesbian since she could walk. She also always envisioned taking care of her wife someday and giving her future wife her last name. So why wouldn't I want to do something to honor the woman that gives me the world?
These two bloggers also referred to taking their spouses name as archaic. Archaic refers to something old fashioned. I don't know about you, but two women getting legally married, throwing a lot of gender roles on their heads and living their entire lives and careers openly out, sounds pretty modern to me. While my wife and I lead a very "traditional" life in some ways, we're still two women. No matter how traditional my life as a wife may seem in comparison to my straight counterpart. I'm still married to another woman and I think we have a few years to go before that can comfortably be termed, traditional in every day society. But we're hopeful that one day, Jill and Jane getting married will be as mundane as Jack and Jill tying the knot.
Until then, I am proud to have taken my wife's name for both romantic and political reasons. I also wonder, out of the women that refused to take their spouses name, if they're really in love with them? I mean madly, stupidly, lustfully in love with their partners? Personally, this whole gay marriage thing has been a lovely surprise in every way and I can't help but think that marriage is about unity. If you aren't willing to merge your names, are you really ready to merge your entire lives?