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28 November 2008 @ 07:45 pm
I know it's rhetorical, but:  
Gay marriage: the database engineering perspective

via DreamCafé
gh4acws on November 29th, 2008 02:28 am (UTC)
bureaucracy and paper forms
are a consideration.

In my ( het ) marriage (1985 to 1995 ) we did nearly everything the reverse way : I changed my name to a hyphenated version ( argh! never again* ) and I stayed at home and cleaned ( badly) ironed ( slowly ) and cooked ( getting better and better, while my wife went out and earned money. ( and at the separation/divorce I did get alimony for some time )

However the tax form for joint filing provided spaces only for "head of the household" and "wife" with only the latter one with a field for "Birthname"
So now I had to either claim to be "head of the household" and have no field to enter my birthname or claim to be4 wife ( In German with gendered nouns implying being female ). Either way was entering "false and misleading information" into the taxform.

Taking the male partners name is a STRONG standard in Germany : so strong that for people with a hyphenated name the assumption is they MUST be female ( the bright red heads of several receptionists were FUN! to watch ).
The law used to require the woman to take the name of her husband ( with special permit needed for exemptions : princess marries commoner, female heir to the business empire marries non-entity : this also markled the minority of men with changed names as nonentity-eunuchs ). Hyphenated names are discouraged and apply only to one of the partners ( since the 1980s to wife XOR wife ) and not to the children. Only since the late 80s was the concept of both partners keeping their name allowed.

In German with its gendered nouns this is also reflected in language changes: "birthname for women is "Mädchenname" literally 'maiden-name' ( and since the maiden id neutral so is the derived noun) - after it became possible for greater numbers of men to have a birthname differing from their current name the forms changed to "Geburtsname" ( birthname, properly neutral ).
and the societal expectations are STILL that the woman changes her name. Comedians get a (cheap) laugh by slowly reciting the distinctive double names of certain female politicians. [ much as "Mrs Clinton-Soucour" would work].
I bet there are still paper-forms around that do not fit.

*: having a hyphenated name does not double the chance of being misspelled: it quadruples. ( strictly : expands with the exponent of the number of names ) And those long names often don't fit the formspace. These days I am less attached to my birthname: I am me whatever label people give me : I want the label to be consistent so that I have less work and so that databases are easy to change, but that's it.
gh4acws on November 29th, 2008 02:30 am (UTC)
I was not implying
that one should RESPECT silly traditions. People who do bad design ( like those tax forms ) should be mocked loudly and publicly. ( And I admit having fun with that if I can. )