Nevada bill to make it easier to change name on marriage certificates
April Corbin Girnus
(Nevada Current) The Wedding Capital of the World wants to make it easier for people who have changed their legal name to amend their marriage certificate to reflect their chosen name.
Senate Bill 211 passed the Nevada Senate on Monday with bipartisan, near-unanimous support. Only state Sen. Robin Titus (R-Wellington) voted against the bill. It now heads to the Assembly for consideration.
The bill, which is backed by the Clark County Clerk’s Office, would allow a person whose name has been legally changed by a court to present that documentation to a county clerk or recorder and have their marriage certificate amended to reflect that name. The original marriage certificate would be kept on file as public record.
Myriad reasons exist for why a person might change their name. But the proposed legislation is seen as especially relevant to trans people who married prior to legally replacing the name they were given at birth.
Trans people (and others who have legally changed their name) already have the ability to have those names reflected on other government-issued identification and documents, including driver’s licenses, passports, social security cards, and even birth certificates. Marriage certificates have been “a holdout,” said state Sen. Dallas Harris, who is sponsoring the bill.
“It should not be easier to change your name on your birth certificate than your marriage certificate,” she added.
Nevada’s SB 211 would also repeal the authority of county clerks and rural recorders to directly authorize a name change after marriage. That authority was given to the issuers of marriage licenses by state lawmakers in 2017, but Clark County Clerk Lynn Marie Goya told lawmakers during a March bill hearing that having the option has only led to “consternation.”
Betrotheds sometimes show up to the clerk’s office not having had a discussion on name changes, she said. Other times, a person changes their mind between the time they filed for the marriage certificate and the time they visit the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles to change their identification.
That can lead to issues, as the Nevada DMV is required to use the name listed on the marriage certificate, which prompts the person to return to the county clerk’s office. Tourists who travel to Nevada to get married might similarly run into hiccups when they return home because the processes for changing your name varies by state.
Goya told lawmakers that removing that authority from Nevada clerks and recorders will streamline the process of issuing certificates, ultimately saving money and time.
The Clark County Clerk, which actively markets Las Vegas as a premier wedding destination, issues approximately 80,000 marriage licenses per year.