News (USA)

Couple files lawsuit after Florida cancels driver’s licenses over name change

Couple files lawsuit after Florida cancels driver’s licenses over name change

ORLANDO, Fla. — Two Central Florida men whose driver’s licenses were cancelled because they changed their names using their out-of-state marriage license, have filed a lawsuit against the state of Florida, seeking to have their legal marriage recognized by the state.

Scott Wall-DeSousa and Dan Wall-DeSousa
Scott Wall-DeSousa and Daniel Wall-DeSousa

The Orlando Sentinel reports that Daniel Wall-DeSousa, 40, and Scott Wall-DeSousa, 37, filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court, asking a judge to force the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to recognize their marriage.

The couple was married in New York City on Dec. 6, 2013, and a few days later changed their names through the Social Security Administration, each adding the last name of the other, according to the suit.

The couple eventually obtained new Florida driver’s licenses showing their new last names, but the department abruptly cancelled them after they appeared in a local television news report.

Daniel Wall-Desousa said he and his husband each received warnings from Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles following an Oct. 30 broadcast in which WFTV reported that they were one of Florida’s first same-sex couples to successfully change their name using an out-of-state same-sex marriage license.

 The letter “informs me and notifies me that my driving privileges will be canceled indefinitely as of Nov. 22,” said Daniel Wall-Desousa, because the couple’s out-of-state marriage license is not recognized in Florida.

On Tuesday, Daniel Wall-DeSousa refused to reapply for his driver’s license using his former name. Instead, he followed the department’s alternative instruction: He cut his license in half, mailed it back to the department’s Tallahassee office and now cannot drive.

He said he plans to walk or ride the bus.

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“My driving privileges have been cancelled indefinitely,” he said. “I made a decision I would rather give up my driving privileges than my identity.”

Scott Wall-DeSousa, however, reapplied for a license using his old name — Scott Wall — and was given one.

The couple then filed suit on Tuesday against the motor vehicles department, its executive director, Gov. Rick Scott and a manager in the Brevard County’s tax collector’s office, where drivers license applications are processed.

The suit accuses the state of violating the couple’s constitutional rights and asks U.S. Magistrate David A. Baker to order Florida to recognize same-sex marriages from other states.

Earlier this year, a federal judge ruled the Florida gay marriage ban was unconstitutional. But he stayed his decision while the state appealed it to the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Judges in four South Florida counties – Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach – have ruled that the state’s 2008 voter-approved constitutional amendment banning gay marriage violates gay residents’ right to equal protection under the law as guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.

The complaint is here.

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