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A reader alerted us to a weird anomaly: Many married women who take their husband’s last name but use their maiden name as their middle name find that their marriage certificate doesn’t provide legal evidence of that middle-name change. This is proving an obstacle when trying to get a Real ID license, which will be required for flying as of October 2020.

The complication is a discrepancy between a birth certificate saying Mary Jane Jones and a driver’s license which, after marrying Joe Smith, says Mary Jones Smith. Picky DMV offices have been responding: “What happened to the ‘Jane’? I can’t accept this as evidence that you’re the same person as on the birth certificate!” The solution: go to probate court and legally change your middle name, at a cost of at least $110.

This isn’t unique to New Hampshire; the federal government has had to tell many states that they can make a logical inference that Mary Jane Jones and Mary Jones Smith are the same person.

I wrote about it in Sunday’s Monitor – the story is here. I heard from several other women in the same boat, after the story came out, and told them not to spend the probate court money but to try again. And Holly Williams, the woman in my story? She got her Real ID on Monday morning. Power of the press!

As the newsletter went out, I’m working on a follow-up: Turns out the state’s marriage certificate form changed in 2015, so people who have gotten married since then have to declare their full name, which means they don’t face this problem. It’s limited to people married more than four years ago.

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