The groom will be changing his name

A California couple fought for -- and won -- the right for the husband to take his wife's surname.

By Catherine Price
May 6, 2008 11:25PM (UTC)
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Call me naive, but in a world where it is fair game to name your children things like "Pilot Inspektor" and "God'iss Love Stone," I thought it wouldn't be a big deal for a man to take his wife's name. I mean, hell, in some cases, it might help men fight back against unfortunate parental choices. Take, for example, Duke president Dick Brodhead.

But apparently I'm wrong. According to Reuters (sent to us via Shakespeare's Sister), "it took two years, a lawsuit alleging sexual discrimination, and a change in California law" before Michael Buday could become Michael Bijon. As Reuters describes the situation, "He discovered it would take a $350 fee, court appearances, a public announcement and mounds of paperwork to make a change on his driving license that is routine for women who marry."


The problem? While it's easy for a woman to take her husband's name, for both to keep their birth names or, for that matter, to create a Bijon-Buday hyphenation, California and about 40 other states didn't (and mostly still don't) provide a place on the marriage license application and driving license for the groom to change his name to the bride's.

But in California at least, things are changing. Thanks to the Bijons' lawsuit, a new state law has been established that guarantees the right for both married couples and registered domestic partners to choose whichever last name they prefer.

The Bijons, obviously, are thrilled: "Women have fought so long for equal rights and it feels like this is part of that fight," Diana Bijon is quoted as saying. "When we got married, the law basically said, 'Don't be silly, only a woman can change her name when she gets married.'"


(I would add that this lawsuit also represent a win for men's equal rights, since Michael can now call himself a Bijon without fears of hyphenation -- it's good for both sides.)

"I'm really, really proud of him," Diana Bijon continued. "Not many men would do this."

I actually know of at least one male Broadsheet reader who took his wife's name, but are there more of you out there? Or does anyone know people who have tried? I'd be interested in hearing what your experiences have been like -- and if you think that having the right to change their names might encourage more men to do so. (My guess is no, but then again, I'm not a Bijon.) Thoughts?

Catherine Price

Catherine Price is an award-winning journalist and author of Vitamania: How Vitamins Revolutionized the Way We Think About Food. Her written and multimedia work has appeared in publications including The Best American Science Writing, The New York Times, Popular Science, O: The Oprah Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Washington Post Magazine, Salon, Slate, Men’s Journal, Mother Jones, PARADE, Health Magazine, and Outside. Price lives in Philadelphia.

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