Victory! The Maine Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) in June overturned a Probate Court ruling that had denied Ms. Boardman, a widow, her petition to change her married surname to that of a friend. The SJC rejected the Probate Court’s ruling that the change would create the misleading impression that the two are married and thus constitute fraud—that precludes a name change. As the Court noted, “given the variety of naming conventions in modern society, having the same last name no more indicates that a couple is married than having different last names indicates that a couple is unmarried.”

GLAD, joined by the ACLU of Maine, EqualityMaine, and Trans Youth Equality Foundation, submitted a friend-of-the-court brief to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court in support of an appellant who was denied a legal name change. The Probate Court denied Ms. Boardman’s petition on the grounds that changing her surname to that of a friend would give the misleading impression that the two are married.

The brief, which stresses the importance to the LGBT community of consistent application of the name change statute, argues that Ms. Boardman’s petition met all the requirments of the statute and that the Probate Court abused its discretion in denying it. The statute requires only that a name not be changed for fraudulent purposes, and there was no evidence of fraud in the record in Ms. Broadman’s case. Furthermore, the brief argues, the Court’s assertion that two unmarried individuals cannot share a surname undermines Maine public policy which both prohibits marital status discrimination and supports families whether marital or nonmarital.