A state senator from Omaha wants to make it easier for Nebraskans to get nontraditional name changes upon marriage.

"Right now, only a woman has the opportunity to change her name," said Omaha Sen. Sara Howard.

If men want to change their names, they have to go through the state's administrative court procedure, a lengthier process. The same goes for women who want to change more than their last names: for example, a woman who wants to keep her maiden name by making it her new middle name.

Howard proposed a legislative study (LR232) of the situation this week, which lawmakers are likely to take up over the summer.

Specifically, Howard hopes to examine ways to:

* Make it easier for men to change or hyphenate their names when they get married. Currently, only newly married women can circumvent the longer administrative process for name changes.

* Restore a simplified method for newlyweds to change their middle names. The longtime practice of women keeping their maiden names as middle names upon marriage was made more complicated with the passage of the federal REAL ID Act of 2005, which resulted in women have to go through the courts to change their middle names on their driver's licenses, even upon marriage.

* Address name changes for "modern families." That could include same-sex couples should the U.S. Supreme Court overturn state bans on gay marriage this summer.

Howard, who is getting married in October, said she and her fiance do not plan to change their names.

But, she said, "it's a conversation we definitely had."

This issue hit home as a result, she said.

She intended to introduce a bill to change the law earlier this year, but encountered too many complications with the REAL ID Act, which took full effect last April.

The act was created after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and was intended to make it harder for terrorists to avoid detection. It requires proof of lawful status in the U.S. in order for a driver's license to be valid for federal use.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7234 or zpluhacek@journalstar.com. On Twitter @zachamiLJS.


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