Emens on Marriage and Naming Conventions: “A Simple Hyphen Will Do”

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Earlier this month, Elizabeth Emens (Columbia) published an op-ed “A Simple Hyphen Will Do” in the New York Times (here).

Here is an excerpt:

Will same-sex marriage help make straight marriage more equal? Here’s one concrete way it could. * * *

New York has a law on the books that could help make marriage more equal. But no one seems to know about this law. * * *

In the interest of gender equality, and in compliance with the law, the new forms should include prominent statements of the marital naming options.

Why? Because names matter. And right now, women who marry men have limited options when it comes to names. Sure, women can choose their names, which is better than having to take their husbands’ names, as used to be required in some states. But kids almost always have their father’s name. So a woman can either share a name with her past life and family, or share a name with her children. In other words, men get to have continuity with both past and future; women have to choose. (And of course this practice of patrilineal descent of names doesn’t provide any guidance for same-sex couples.)

What’s the solution?

Read the rest of the op-ed here.

-Bridget Crawford

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