The state of Texas is now recognizing Connie Wilson’s same-sex marriage. In September, as the Observer first reported, the Texas Department of Public Safety refused to issue a driver’s license to Wilson, because her name was changed through a same-sex marriage in California. DPS says the policy is based on Texas’ constitutional amendment banning recognition of same-sex marriages.
After being denied a license, Wilson renewed her passport in her married name, based on the federal government’s recognition of same-sex marriages. Last Monday, Wilson returned to a different DPS office and used her passport to obtain her Texas driver’s license in her married name.
“Unbeknownst to them or not, they are recognizing that I have a name that was gained by same-sex marriage,” Wilson said. “Regardless of consequences, they’re still having to recognize that that is my name.”
On her first trip to DPS, Wilson presented her California marriage license to show why her name is different from the one on her birth certificate. After noticing that Wilson’s spouse’s name is “Amy,” a DPS employee refused to issue the license citing DPS policy.
However, DPS policy also states that the agency accepts passports to obtain driver’s license without any additional identification.
Wilson, who moved with her wife from California to the Houston area this summer, said her advice to same-sex couples relocating to Texas is simple: Get your passport and make sure it is renewed.
“Go the extra mile,” she said. “Just relieve yourself of any undue stress. It shouldn’t have to be that way, but it’s a fact of life.”
In retrospect, Wilson said she thinks her story, which drew national attention, helped raised awareness about discrimination faced by same-sex couples. She said she faults not only the DPS policy but also the discretion apparently granted to DPS employees. She said she’s heard from others who’ve obtained driver’s licenses using same-sex marriage licenses, so she believes DPS employees decide what documents to accept.
“It’s human nature, we’re going to put our own belief system into that discretion,” Wilson said.
The issue of DPS discrimination against same-sex couples resurfaced last month, when out lesbian Houston Mayor Annise Parker suggested on Twitter that her daughter had been refused a license because she has two moms. DPS responded by saying the decision to turn away Parker’s daughter was based on insufficient documentation of her residency, not same-sex marriage. But the agency refused to elaborate, citing privacy concerns.
The mayor, whose daughter was eventually able to obtain her license, has also declined to elaborate on what took place beyond her tweets. But based on Wilson’s own experience, she thinks she has a pretty good idea.
“Within my mind, there’s no doubt she was pulled aside because of the fact that she has two moms,” Wilson said.
Wilson, who has children ages 1 and 4, said she sometimes worries about discrimination they might face as they get older. But she noted that she and her wife chose to move here.
“It’s a great place,” she said. “It’s a great state. California wasn’t perfect, either.”To support journalism like this, donate to the Texas Observer.