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West Virginia

West Virginia refuses drivers license to legally married same-sex spouse

Friday, December 7, 2012

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — It’s been a year since Cynthia Landis married her partner, Melissa Landis, in the District of Columbia, and since that time Cynthia’s legal last name has been Landis — in fact, it now says so on her Social Security card, her District of Columbia marriage certificate and her Virginia driver’s license.

Cyndee Landis (right) with her wife, Melissa Landis, and their daughter Anne.

The problem now is that the Landis’ are moving to West Virginia, and that state refuses to issue Cynthia a drivers license in the name of Landis because she’s married to a woman and state law forbids the agency from recognizing any documents related to a same-sex marriage.

According to West Virginia Motor Vehicle Commissioner Steve Dale, his agency would be glad to issue Cynthia a license in her ex-husband’s last name because, in the state’s eyes, that’s still legally her name, reported the Charleston Gazette.

“I can’t believe that the state has the right to just say, willy-nilly, ‘We’re only going to recognize the legality of the documents we choose and not these.’ It’s ridiculous,” said Landis, who has sent a complaint letter to the governor’s office.

“I’m not asking the state to recognize my marriage,” she said, “but that is the proof that I have that my name has changed.”

Cynthia, 34, and Melissa, 30, married in D.C. in October 2011, and within a month Cynthia was able to obtain a new drivers license and social security card in the state of Virginia, where they resided, using their valid marriage certificate.

But upon moving to rural Hampshire County in West Virginia, state law requires new residents to surrender their old licenses within 30 days and obtain West Virginia cards.

In 2000, at the request of then-Republican Gov. Cecil Underwood, W. Va. lawmakers passed their own version of a Defense of Marriage Act, specifying that the only legal union is one between a man and a woman. That law reads that “public acts, records or judicial proceedings of any other state” regarding a same-sex marriage, “or a right or claim arising from such relationship, shall not be given effect by this state.”

And because of that law, Cynthia Landis is now an illegal driver in West Virginia, even though her Virginia license is valid through 2020.

“If this law were not in effect, we would have taken the marriage certificate on its face value as an official record and used it,” said Dale.

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39 more reader comments:

  1. Doesn’t surprise me. Now if they were SIBLINGS, that would be a whole ‘nother story…

    Posted on Friday, December 7, 2012 at 8:30pm
  2. WTF!!!!!!!

    Posted on Friday, December 7, 2012 at 8:30pm
  3. DOUBLE WTF!!!

    Posted on Friday, December 7, 2012 at 8:30pm
  4. Dickhead Bigots

    Posted on Friday, December 7, 2012 at 8:31pm
  5. Maybe she needs to say its her cousin? She should get it then….

    Posted on Friday, December 7, 2012 at 8:33pm
  6. that’s messed up….

    Posted on Friday, December 7, 2012 at 8:33pm
  7. What nonsense!

    Posted on Friday, December 7, 2012 at 8:36pm
  8. American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia already posted this on their FB page & hopefully they will help this American citizen who is being denied her human rights by the heterosupremacist apartheid tyrannical theocRAT thugs in West Virginia

    Posted on Friday, December 7, 2012 at 8:36pm
  9. fer cryin out loud already! It’s 20frickin12~

    Posted on Friday, December 7, 2012 at 8:39pm
  10. wow

    Posted on Friday, December 7, 2012 at 8:40pm
  11. Sad

    Posted on Friday, December 7, 2012 at 8:41pm
  12. Thats so stupid when are people gonna stop being so ignorant

    Posted on Friday, December 7, 2012 at 8:42pm
  13. Oh I see a big lawsuit coming. I hope those couples make big $$$$ out of it

    Posted on Friday, December 7, 2012 at 8:43pm
  14. LSB: Sadly, the thinking is 18th century… It makes our HEALTHY gay kids become very ill… even to the point of taking their own life. F A Earle MD PhD

    Posted on Friday, December 7, 2012 at 8:44pm
  15. The fact this kind of thing is still a problem tho

    Posted on Friday, December 7, 2012 at 8:45pm
  16. Ok lets not include all West Virginians in that stereotype…Ive lived here all my life n Im ashamed (but not surprised) of my state…especially since I happen 2 be a lesbian myself…sad 2 say,but I know that we’ll be 1 lf the last 2 jump on the bandwagon as we are with everything else….

    Posted on Friday, December 7, 2012 at 8:46pm
  17. Hell no!!!

    Posted on Friday, December 7, 2012 at 8:48pm
  18. Well what do you expect?! This is the place where NOT marrying a family is strictly prohibited.

    Posted on Friday, December 7, 2012 at 8:48pm
  19. Wow. Way to be douche bags West Virginia. I won’t be spending any time there again. Good luck ladies. Your going to need it.

    Posted on Friday, December 7, 2012 at 8:48pm
  20. Nobody wrote a big story about my wife and me when this happened to us, lol.

    Posted on Friday, December 7, 2012 at 8:52pm
  21. Ignorance is bliss so sad

    Posted on Friday, December 7, 2012 at 8:52pm
  22. DOMA is unconstitutional anyway. Anyone who is a member of the gay community should really look into why. But, briefly: Basically, the constitution says that any document made official in one state must be honored in another–like a driver’s license or marriage certificate. It was done to keep the states from becoming too powerful, or basically fucking each other over. But, Clinton put DOMA in place and yeah, it prevents states where marriage to another of the same gender is illegal from honoring that document (from another state where it is). If we didn’t have DOMA they wouldn’t even be having this problem in the article above.

    Posted on Friday, December 7, 2012 at 8:55pm
  23. What?!?! Ashamed for my home state!

    Posted on Friday, December 7, 2012 at 8:59pm
  24. That’s ridiculous. Anyway okay since they can’t drive I guess they can use other forms of transportation, say bus or bike. I am going to say they are just looking out for homosexual couples insisting that they should still stay healthy and fit, regardless of the fact that they are now happily married/together to live their life to the fullest.

    Posted on Friday, December 7, 2012 at 9:24pm
  25. Soooo wrong….I hope whenever I get married that doesn’t still happen!!

    Posted on Friday, December 7, 2012 at 9:42pm
  26. Al Bundy was right: Who’s the genius who let West Virginia become a state?

    Posted on Friday, December 7, 2012 at 9:51pm
  27. Prats!

    Posted on Friday, December 7, 2012 at 11:07pm
  28. despicable

    Posted on Saturday, December 8, 2012 at 12:12am
  29. Ridiculous and backward

    Posted on Saturday, December 8, 2012 at 12:58am
  30. Ain’t that the same state that carrie ‘other taboo’ relations? But they have a problem with same sex marriage?

    Posted on Saturday, December 8, 2012 at 1:03am
  31. I live in WV.. and I am not proud to say I do… It is wrong of them to not issue their licenses to them.. I hate this retarded redneck state!!!

    Posted on Saturday, December 8, 2012 at 1:44am
  32. Oh Yeah…it’s okay for a brother to marry a sister; or for a rapist to marry his victim; but it’s NOT okay for two people, of the same gender, who love each other, to get married.- It’s a Sad, Sad world when a wife-beater can be more “accepted” than a same-gender couple just wanting to get married.- VERY, VERY SAD.-

    Posted on Saturday, December 8, 2012 at 3:23am
  33. Just wrong!

    Posted on Saturday, December 8, 2012 at 5:41am
  34. Sad very sad

    Posted on Saturday, December 8, 2012 at 6:07am
  35. Ok I’m from wv .. No brother and sister can not marry that’s as dumb as the rest of this shit… But here is a thought before attacking wv .. How many other states are there that gay marriage is illegal??? This will happen in those states as well not just wv .. So until the rest of the world can stop being as small minded this shit its gonna happen until gay marriage is no longer illegal !!

    Posted on Saturday, December 8, 2012 at 8:36am
  36. What b.s…. I don’t understand why some areas are trying to fight gay marriage so hard. Eventually we will be able to be free and have rights like everyone else. We just have to keep fighting and endure until then. Have faith.

    Posted on Saturday, December 8, 2012 at 8:58am
  37. It appears to be a repeat of the Va vs Loving case.

    Posted on Saturday, December 8, 2012 at 10:38am
  38. TY for posting! And TY to all those who support my right to be known by my legal name. WV is not the only state this has happened in, and I am not the only victim of this type of discrimination…my hope is to bring discussions like this to the forefront of the public forums, and hopefully (with help) affect change in the laws of our country. PS – I am waiting on a return call from the ACLU. I will not be quiet, I will not back down.

    Posted on Saturday, December 8, 2012 at 11:33am
  39. Change for a minority against the majority only happens with a little push back. It’s part of the fight for equality. That’s what happened in Loving vs Virginia and will eventually happen with us. People like us have to keep the pressure up.

    Posted on Sunday, December 9, 2012 at 3:54am