The State Department will allow married
gay and lesbian couples to use their spouse's surname when applying
for a passport.
The change was announced Wednesday by
the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD), the Boston-based
gay rights advocacy group at the center of the gay marriage debate in
“We are elated!” Lee Swislow,
executive director of GLAD, said in a statement. “When GLAD filed
its DOMA lawsuit … we predicted five years of litigation … This
quick and gratifying result is only one small step. But it's a very
meaningful step, and it keeps us focused on our ultimate goal –
ending federal discrimination against all married same-sex couples.”
GLAD sued the federal government on
behalf of eight married gay and lesbian couples who have been denied
benefits from federal agencies under the federal Defense of Marriage
Act (DOMA), the Clinton-era law that allows states to ignore legal
gay marriages performed in other states and defines marriage as a
heterosexual union for federal agencies.
The lawsuit tackles section 3 of DOMA
which denies gay and lesbian married couples access to federal
benefits, such as the right to use a married name on a passport.
In a letter dated June 15, the Justice
Department notified GLAD that the prohibition was no longer in
effect, and invited the couple involved, Keith and Al Toney, to
reapply for a new passport with all fees waived.