Thursday, March 04, 2010

What's in a Name?

This is still a moot issue for me, because of the American laws and regulations, but right now this has been very big on Astrid's mind: her name.

If she had not done anything about it, on both her passport and driver's license, Astrid would still be A.M.A. Wijdekop e/v Frieling (her ex-husband's name).

e/v = echtgenoot van = spouse of

See my black arrow on her passport? One of the first things Astrid did after our marriage on February 5 was to get the changes made that would make it clear in any situation...airport security, car accident, hospitalization, insurance, etc....that she and I are married. That she is the spouse of Hart. That Hart is the spouse of Wijdekop. That I, Ginnie, have rights because of our marriage.

She did the same thing with the name on our apartment: A. Wijdekop & G. Hart. The week after our marriage, she had me take our official wedding document to Poort 6, the company that rents out apartments in our municipality, to show that we are married and that therefore I, too, am head renter of our apartment. Why? So if something happens to her, no one can kick me out.

It greatly humbles me, of course, that Astrid has been forward-thinking about any contingencies on my behalf. I'm not sure how long it would have taken me to think of them, let alone wonder what would/might happen in the worst-case scenario.

Now look at this...the back of my residence-permit ID card, which I just picked up on Tuesday. See where my black arrow points? It says I'm staying with my wife, A.M.A. Wijdekop, which is another way of saying she is my "sponsor" allowing me to stay in the Netherlands.

Not that we're thinking of worst-case scenarios, mind you, but I love that the Netherlands thinks this is important enough to add it to Astrid's two biggest IDs: passport and driver's license...and now to my residence ID card. I still have my American pasport and driver's license, which make no mention of Astrid, of course. But if it comes to it, will these official Holland documents amount to a hill of beans in America? (Dream on, I know....)

BTW, I did find out the other day that green-card status in America for same-sex partners will probably happen before same-sex marriage is recognized federally ("UAFA may gain approval in the U.S. before full marriage rights do"). If so, that means Astrid and I can move back to the States because she's my wife from another country! And we have the documents to prove it!


  1. Very interesting to see the Dutch perspective on recognition of a partner, whether same sex or not. On no Canadian official document such as passport or driver's licence is mention made of a spouse, unless you write your spouse in yourself on the page for emergency contacts!
    I realized, reading your post, that my reaction to the mention of my relationship to a husband (in my personal documents) would have been negative - a residual effect of coming of age when the feminist movement was pretty rabid. I never changed my name and finally only added his surname after mine in my passport because I often traveled by myself with our children, who had his last name.

    All that aside, the news about a green card is pretty exciting. What is UAFA?
    Never mind! I just googled it. So would you prefer to live in the States??

  2. I love that you have a Dutch last name, Ginnie! I think you should both be known as the Wijdeharts, because you are!

  3. I read Dutchbaby's comment, we choose to keep the same name, so Ginnie is known as Hart and I am known as Wijdekop.
    I could have taken the name of Ginnie, however official it will alwyas be, Wijdekop spouse of.....
    The name given by birth cannot be taken away.
    Reading this post did make me proud again to be married to Ginnie and that there is record of it, so nobody can send me away if anything happens and sometimes I can let Ginnie take care of official business if I have no time, the fact that we are married and a letter from me with my signature is enough.
    'What's in a name'....answer...more than you know :)

  4. This is so great Ginnie! I am so happy that you are getting the recognition in your current home that you should be getting EVERYWHERE! And I'll keep my fingers crossed for the approval of the UAFA here in the States ... I can't wait to meet the two of you in person and I think my chances are better if you're on this side of the pond.

    Peace and love to you both - linda

  5. IT is so forward thinking, and so wonderful! Yes I know that in Quebec, you cannot take away the name given to you at birth and that you are always referred to as your birth last name. It makes a lot of sense..

    But when can ya talk sense into someone who can't and won't listen????..... Really I think that is the real issue...

    It's too bad. I'm happy to be in Canada where rights are equal!

  6. I think it is very thoughtful of Astrid to have done all this paperwork. I also think that this is normal when one gets married. One should have the choice to show one’s spouse or not, but it is better for legal purposes to have both names. I am sure this gives you satisfaction because this is a right that your country, (supposedly where people are free) does not offer you. I think in France (I am not sure if this passed) they were talking about keeping your name when you get married, taking your spouse’s name, or taking your mother’s maiden name, or your grandparent’s names,etc. That could get complicated! I always wished I could have taken my great great grand-mother’s name who was titled, it sounded so romantic like a name in a novel instead of the hard to pronounce foreign sounding last name I had in France.

  7. Deborah: I totally understand where you're coming from! It always p***ed me off that women traditionally had to change their names but not the men when they got married. It makes a lot more sense for everyone to keep their given name and add "wife/spouse of" afterwards when married...just on the official documents. When Bill and I got married in 1969 and I was still writing poetry at that time, I adamantly continued to sign my poems with my maiden name. It was the only thing that felt right! Re your question about preferring to live in the States: YES. My kids, grandson and sibs all live there, whereas Astrid has only one person, her son, living here to keep her here. HE would love to have her that he could visit her in the States! It's a no-brainer for us. In the meantime, we will enjoy our time here and live life to the hilt as much as possible...especially traveling in our little green car! :)

    DB: Wijdeharten would be a fabulous last name and Astrid loves it. Yes, we can see it. Wide Hearts! :)

    Astrid: I love that the name given by birth cannot be taken away. It was given to us for a reason and we need never forget from whence we've come. Thank you for being so proud to take my last name with you...and yours with me. I love it!

    Linda: When I read that article awhile back I had so much hope, Linda. We both can live with green-card status as a starter, and then hope for the rest to come. Hope against hope....

    ET: Thanks for your support, as always. We continue to be optimistic, against all odds.

    Vagabonde: Wow. The options are astonishing if that happens in France. Yes, that could get complicated. Our names are so core to who we are!

  8. I remember when I married Don I didn't want to lose Hart, so I kept it as my middle name. Names are important, and these legal documents are a simple validation of what we hetero couples might take for granted. Thank you for helping to remind me that I should not take the privilege of marrying whom I wish for granted.

    I just love seeing:
    HART<<VIRGINIA<LOUISE<<< and Amerikaans Burger and ASTRID MARTHA ALIDA and all the sweet attentions to detail on these documents. So like you to pay close attention to the details, dear you.

  9. What a journey you are on! You both are pioneers in many ways and life is more real for you! Keep living it to the fullest.

    BTW, when/if you move to the USA, where are you thinking about settling?

  10. Ruth: The details in these documents totally fascinate me. When you pay attention, you see your birthdate, gender, expiration date, etc. One thing about my middle name here is that it's pronounced Lou-EEZ-a. It still tickles me to death. :) Thanks for following my gist...and point!

    Don: We are definitely on a Journey and we are loving it every day. We are doing our best to live it to the fullest, yes! And if we move to the States, Atlanta is an option if both kids are still there. If not, we have often discussed Holland, MI, because of all the connections we both will have to Dutch heritage. I can even picture Astrid getting a job there where she can put her real Dutch to good use! :) We'll see.

  11. These are very interesting facts,
    and on March 8, when I do write my comments, well then it's kind of special.
    You might recall, I believe I wrote in one of my comments "years" ago, that I was the only Male speaker, when a former collegue of Anna was given her official Partnership with her beloved woman.
    That was about 15 years ago.
    Now people of equal sex can marry in Norway as well.
    It seems men are more open to do that than women. At least, I know of lot's more men that have done so.
    For me Marriage is a personal matter. Driven my love and NOT religion and public opinions.
    Like how we prefere and practice something as sensual as love and sex. The finest we can give another person - we are really vulnerable but still it's the best gift between people in love.
    People who do not accept such a natural fact, does it with their "Religion says so blah blah".
    Unfortunally, it's a very strong factor. People are brainwashed in tooo many Countries.

    It's intersting to realize how you both are connected on official ID-Cards in Holland.
    We are not in Norway.
    Anna has her Maiden Name and so have I.
    My children do have my Family name.
    - even my x-wife, who preferred to keep my family name, instead of chaning back to her Famliy name. It was easier for her to travel with her children, when she had her kids Family name.


    In Norway to day, it's very common that the children got both their Mother's and Father's Family Family Names.
    Like our youngest grandchildren:
    Metin Leander Yücksel Aabö

    btw. Hope to see you soon.

    T and A

  12. Tor, you are such a dear friend! You couldn't have said or shown it any better than this. I don't know when we'll see you and Anna but we know it will be one day soon!

  13. These cards are terrific. As for the U.S., things are changing quickly if the reactionaries don't demagogue reform into oblivion. Still, we are a long way from the kinds of policies you describe in Holland. Congratulations!

  14. Ted: I just hope the good changes happen in my lifetime. Astrid and I really do want to live in the States before too much time goes by. It's where I'd like to kick the bucket. She wouldn't mind that, either. :)