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Changing surname upon marriage

Posted 10 Months ago by chiarizio

This is a question about the evolving sociology about same-sex marriage in mostly-English-speaking countries.
(Or any other country that 1) has the same tradition of changing one’s surname upon marriage and 2) allows same-sex marriage.)

(Perhaps it belongs in another subforum instead of Sexuality; but my best first guess was to put it here. If a mod wants to move it I won’t be offended!)

When two men marry each other, does one of them take the other’s surname as his own?
When two women marry each other, does one of them change her surname to the other’s?

In countries in which English is the dominant language, it has been traditional for centuries that when a man and woman married, the bride would change her “last name” to match her new husband’s name.
Of course this didn’t apply back before almost everybody had a surname.
And if the wife had established a reputation before the marriage, it sometimes made better sense for her not to change her name.
And occasionally there were just rebels. When John Lennon married Yoko Ono they both took each other’s last name; he became John Ono Lennon and she became Yoko Ono Lennon.

There are some Western and European countries in which the surname or family name is not the “last name”.
And even in some where it is, the bride doesn’t completely drop her maiden name in favor of her husband’s family-name; various Spanish-speaking countries, for instance.
In China, Chinese women keep the same family name their whole lives. (Frankly I’d prefer that.)

The one same-sex married couple I know who have children, both of the women kept their last names when they married, but all of their children used the last name of just one of them.
That’s like what happens in China; both bride and groom keep their names as-is, but all of their children get the groom’s family name (which comes first, btw).

Well, if I had more to say about this question before asking it, I’ve forgotten!

So; in USAmerica or Canada or the UK or Australia or any other majority-Anglophone country in which same-sex marriage is legal, how do a same-sex married couple handle surnames?

There are 6 Replies

It really depends on the couple in question. A lot of same-sex couples who marry decide to keep both maiden names; some decide to hyphenate both names together; some decide that both partners will take one's name. We have two women at my church who are a married couple and both have their maiden names. I have a good friend from high school, who is a guy, who took his husband's name when they married. I've heard of couples hyphenating their names as well.

10 Months ago
Black Yoshi

@Black Yoshi:
Any idea what the relative popularity of those approaches is?
Does it differ among female couples from among male couples?


When one partner takes the other’s name, is there any tendency for the younger to rake the older’s name, or anything like that?


Is there more variety among same-sex couples than among opposite-sex couples?


If you don’t know, do you have an idea how I could go about finding out who does know?



10 Months ago

In my experience, two interesting things are going on with respect to post-marital names.

1. Same-sex/gender couples I know tend to keep their names. Some join them Latin style. So AX partners with BY, and the resulting couples are either AX & BY or A & B X-Y.

2. Very many younger opposite-sex/gender couples also keeping their names. With some non-Latinos joining their names. Same results as no. 1.

3. There is also a third way that seems to be gaining traction, especially among younger opposite-sex/gender couples, and that is to create a new surname that is neither of theirs. So CV and DW marry and choose to become C & D Z. We didn't do this, but this I think a really spiff option.

10 Months ago

Like if Ashley Olsen married James Creuzfeldt they might become Ashley and James Olsfeldt? Or something like that?

10 Months ago

...or perhaps A&J Kreuzfeld-Jakob...

I think what's happening is that the couple is simply chosing a name other than the one either of them already has. So, they might choose A&J Austen, e.g., if they share a passion for literature.

Combining names the way you illustrate is also a possibility! Some cultures do this as a matter of course for childrens names. This couples kid might be named Jash.

10 Months ago


10 Months ago

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