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Tales from the Sun

okay, well really this is just a spot for me to ramble on about random topics

Thursday, September 07, 2006

So I'm going to rant for a bit, but first let me tell you how the beginning of my day went...

After getting up at 6AM and finalizing some documents, I drove down to Boston to present my proposal for a large web initiative with a new client. The meeting went exceedingly well and I will be going back down next week to present the proposal to the President. After leaving with a huge smile on my face I drove over to Waltham to surprise my mother.

I got there just as physical therapy was there to get her up and walking. Up until today, she had taken 30 or so steps in total (amounting to about 10ft). I had yet to see this in person.

As I stood there and watched her shimmy herself to the side of the bed and sit upright, she then stood on her feet and pivoted 180 degrees until she was able to sit in the wheelchair. I can't tell you how proud I was of her. Next she wheeled herself out of the room and to the end of the corridor. The PT folks asked her to walk in the hallway with the walker. Although, hesitant and not sure of herself, mom walked 56 steps (her age) which amounted to about 25 feet. She sat down and rested.

She was very stiff on the walker as she was afraid of falling, we encouraged her to loosen up her grip and let her feet do the walking and trust us that we wouldn’t let her fall. So motivated, she flapped her hands in the air to get any stiffness out and said, "okay, I'm ready to try again” She walked another 15 or so feet, this time being much looser with her arms. She didn't even realize that we walked passed her own room! We all cried a little bit, but it just meant that she is that much closer to being able to go home.

I was so proud of her and had a hard time leaving, but I was determined to get to the NH Department of Motor Vehicles before they closed at 4:30. I made it just in time (4:19) at the state headquarters in Concord NH.

I patiently waited my turn and then I went up to the counter to have my name officially changed. I had already received my new Social Security card with "Gina Kilby Conaway" but needed to get my license changed in order to get the rest of my "official documents" changed.

I had already pre-filled the form from the website, but she said that wasn't acceptable so she gave me another form (which looked exactly the same) to fill out. After spending a minute or so to fill out, I handed her my new social security card and my marriage certificate. Since it was the end of the day, she was having trouble reading the certificate and she asked me where my husband's name was. I pointed to Amanda's name and replied, "That's my wife's name." She simply said oh and entered in the information. She then took my picture and had me sign my new name.

The nice clerk then said, "Please have a seat and your new license will be ready in two minutes." "Thank you so much" I replied. I was grinning from ear to ear. A sigh of relief that I was finally (officially that is) Mrs. Amanda Lou Conaway. We could change all of our banking information to read Gina & Amanda Conaway, and just plain stop having two names!

Two minutes passed and she called my name. I looked at my new license - the picture was good, my address was correct and everything looked great... except she forgot to change my middle initial to K. It read Gina B. Conaway. Crap, ugh... and for a fleeting second I said to myself, "What difference does it make? Should I even say anything? This was too easy", but being the honest lass that I am, I went back up and said, oh, you forgot to change my middle initial.

You could tell she was trying to get out of there, everyone else had already left and she was kind enough to stay a few minutes past 4:30, and she came back and she asked where I got "K." from and I said that was my maiden name. She said "okay, I'm so sorry... let me just ask the manager how to change it again.” She went into the manager's cube and 5 minutes later she came out and said, "I'm sorry, we made a mistake. This is a same-sex marriage and we can't accept your marriage certificate. You will have to go to the probate court and request a legal name change and then come back". I angrily replied, "You can't be serious. You're fucking joking right?" In defense, the manager replied, "It's not me; the state of NH has to change its laws first". I apologized for my outburst and tried to reassure her that I wasn't angry at her per-se. I told her that I know it's not her fault, but how frustrating and infuriating this was. I thanked her very much and walked back out to my car.

I shut the car door, opened my mouth, and I screamed at the top of my lungs. I then sank into my seat and began to sob.

I called Amanda to tell her and that just made me cry even more. There was nothing she could say to make me feel better. I think that in the back of my mind, I was afraid this was going to happen all along and was one of the reasons why I procrastinated for so long. Once I got my new social security card with no issues, I figured that I would be fine. If the federal government would at least grant me the name change then why wouldn't the State of NH?

LIVE FREE OR DIE

That is my state's official state motto. A state where you are not required by law to where a motorcycle helmet or even buckle your safety belt. However, when I went to the DMV to officially change my last name I was refused, even with a valid marriage certificate.

Why do I even bother? I grew up in Lancaster, NH, a very small town in Coos county. Granted, I know that NH is a conservative state, but if my 80 year old grandfather can accept me than why can't the state of NH?

My wife and I own a house in Plymouth, NH, a small college town where we have been able to live a relatively "open" lifestyle, something we became accustomed to in Massachusetts. I own, WebGamut, a local web design firm and she is the marketing director for a local electricity provider. It was bad enough that her company refused to neither offer nor look into offering domestic partner benefits (that could also be used by straight couples living together). We were angry when that happened, but I was okay with that - at least I will be until my COBRA benefits run out in 12 months.

I know that change takes time and lord knows that I am not the most patient person, but "COME ON". If I hadn't pointed out the mistake to the poor DMV clerk, I wouldn't be writing this tirade and I would at least be Gina B. Conaway.

I would just like to be treated like everyone else in the state of NH. I would like to live in a world where instead of people asking me, "Oh, what is your husband's name?" They would simply ask, "What is your spouse's name?” I don't think that is too much to ask for. Do you?

Comments:

All I can say is thank you.

Thank you for fightingn the fight.
For not accepting the status quo
For working for chang in a screwed up world so that hopefully for the dumlings generation they will say what is your spouses name.
 
Thank you Joe.

I submitted this to some local papers and the Coos County democrat (my hometown paper) called me and they are going to publish it next week.

As much as I have tried very hard not to be an activisit, I felt that if my story changes just one view, than that incident would be worth it.

I am just grateful that the dumpling with have such incredible parents.
 
Every open door exists because someone or something opened it. Most trail blazers in history never volunteer for the job - their sense of justice and passion for principle moved them forward.

You are a guiding light, Gina Bina, and we love you so much. I wish the world could be a kinder, gentler, more loving place ... and maybe because of you and Amanda, it will be.
 
Indeed thanks for fighting the fight! The world needs more like you
 
my wife (also know as domestic partner) and I went to the california dmv who are required to honor the DP paperwork as equivalent to a marriage certificate, to change her name....well, after almost an hour of being kept waiting, and being told we couldn't do it, and me loudly railing at the injustices in USofA in 2006, and the land of equality where some people are more equal than others, I think they got tired of my attitude and the fact that we weren't just going to leave and take no for an answer, so the supervisor manually processed the paperwork, and my wife got her new drivers license, with her "new" last name....sadly, the Los Angeles social security office didn't seem to care as much about the same rants and raves, and a rather burly security guard watched me closely until we left...WITHOUT a new ss card for my wife.... So...wanna trade your ss card for our drivers license?
 
#1 - I'm glad to hear that your mom is doing sooooo much better. That has to be a huge relief.

#2 - I didn't know I knew such activists!! Seriously, keep fighting the fight. It's the regular folks like you and Amanda that can make the difference. You aren't activists, but an average, hard working, taxpaying couple just trying to make their way in the world. You should be afforded the same rights and recognition as any straight couple.
 
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