The Name Equality Act of+ 2007, signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in October 2007 to be made effective Thursday, eliminates any discrepancy in civil rights enjoyed by men and women with respect to the use of a marriage license or domestic partnership certificate to legally change the last name of one, or now both, parties.
"This legislation treats both parties in a committed relationship equally," according to the bill's author, Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco.
Couples will now have access to a gender-neutral marriage license or domestic partnership certificate, one that provides space for both parties to declare any changes to last names "upon solemnization" of the union. The options include taking the current last name of the other spouse or partner, taking the last name of the other given at birth, combining portions of both last names to form just one, or using a hyphenated combination of both.
"No couple should be penalized simply for wanting to validate their union as a family," Ma said in a prepared statement. "This legislation is about equality, flexibility and common sense."