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Man accused of fraud after taking his wife’s last name

Hanh Dinh and Lazaro Sopena on their wedding day in Miami Beach, 2011.

Jay Nguyen/Reuters

A wedding toast to Lazaro Sopena. The newlywed decided to take his wife's name – "an act of love," as he told Reuters – and in exchange the state of Florida decided to suspend his driver's licence for fraud, until it came to its senses.

As Sopena explains it, he wasn't all that attached to his own name. So after his wedding to Hanh Dinh, he got a new passport and Social Security card and amended his bank account accordingly – so that he could become Lazaro Dinh. Then he went to the Department of Motor Vehicles with his marriage licence and the $20 (U.S.) fee that a woman pays to change her name on her driver's licence, should she choose, after tying the knot.

A year later, he received a letter from the state accusing him of "obtaining a licence by fraud." The DMV said he would need to go to court and pay a $400 filing fee. But, wait, he was only changing his name because he had gotten married. The answer: "That only works for women."

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Dinh's lawyers said: "Apparently the state of Florida clings to the outdated notion that treats women as an extension of a man." Turns out 41 states apparently feel the same way, a post in Frisky reports.

How crazy is that? Despite that famous line, a name isn't just a name – as many women who were forced to give theirs up will argue – but ultimately this is such a clear double standard, what else needs to be said?

Eventually, Reuters reports, the DMV relented, saying it had lifted the suspension of Dinh's license. "It was a mistake on our part," a spokesperson told Reuters.

Perhaps Dinh should try to recoup the cost of going without a driver's licence; he had to rely on drives from friends and his wife until the reinstatement. He may be a trailblazer in Florida, but this is a trail that shouldn't need blazing any more.

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