TN 6 (02-12)

PR 02705.014 Hawaii

A. PR 12-049 Name Change Arising from a Civil Union in Hawaii

DATE: January 27, 2012

1. Syllabus

A civil union certificate issued by the State of Hawaii on or after January 1, 2012 is acceptable evidence of a name change

2. Opinion

QUESTION

You asked whether, beginning January 1, 2012, Hawaii law authorized name changes based on a civil union and, if so, what documents were required, and what name elections may be made.

SHORT ANSWER

Beginning January 1, 2012, Hawaii authorized parties to a civil union to change their middle or last names in the same manner as married persons. A certified copy of the civil union certificate is acceptable evidence of the name change. Either party to a civil union may choose to adopt the middle or last name legally used at any time by either partner, or any combination of such names.

BACKGROUND

In February 2011, the Hawaiian Legislature approved legislation recognizing and establishing procedures for civil unions of same-sex or opposite-sex couples. The Governor signed the bill into law on February 23, 2011 1 The law went into effect on January 1, 2012. See Haw. Rev. Stat. § 572B.

Information on the website for the Hawaii State Department of Health, Office of Vital Records indicates that on-line applications for civil union licenses were available at 12:00 a.m. on January 1, 2012. See http://hawaii.gov/health/vital-records/vital-records/civilunion/index.html (last visited Jan. 27, 2012, and indicating an update on Jan. 13, 2012). After applying for the license, both parties must appear in person before a civil union “agent” to receive the actual license. 2 Once they have obtained the license, the parties must have a ceremony before the license expires (usually 30 days from the date of issuance).3 Ceremonies may only be performed by persons licensed to do so by the Department of Health.4

After the ceremony is completed, the Department of Health will review and approve the information submitted on-line by the civil union performer. The partners of the civil union may obtain a certified copy of the civil union certificate from the Department of Health. 5 “The Department of Health can provide certified copies of legal records to verify civil union status in Hawaii to those who are entitled to receive copies pursuant to state law. Certified copies of vital records are acceptable for legal and government transactions.” See id.

ANALYSIS

The agency will accept documentation of a civil union as evidence of a name change if the State issuing such document(s) authorizes the establishment of civil unions. See Program Operations Manual System (POMS) RM 10212.040(A), RM 10212.055. However, the state must explicitly permit a name change based on the civil union, or recognize civil unions as granting the same rights and benefits as a marriage. See POMS RM 10212.040(A); see also POMS PR 02705.016 (Illinois) (specifying this general rule).

As of January 1, 2012, Hawaii began recognizing civil unions, whether established in Hawaii or any other jurisdiction. Haw. Rev. Stat. §§ 572B-2, 572B-10. The participants in civil unions are called “partners,” and partners to a civil union have the “same rights, benefits, protections, and responsibilities” as granted to married couples. Haw. Rev. Stat. §§ 571B-1, 572B-9. A party to a civil union is included in the definition or use of the term “spouse” and “other terms that denote the spousal relationship.” Haw Rev. Stat. § 572B-11. In light of these provisions, Hawaii sufficiently recognizes civil unions as granting the same rights and benefits as marriage.6

A married couple’s right to adopt the middle or last name of the other spouse is a right that extends to partners in a civil union, through application of Hawaii Revised Statute §§ 572B-2 and 572B9. See Haw. Rev. Stat. §§ 574-1, 574-5. After entering a civil union, each party may choose as his or her middle or last name, the “middle or last name legally used at any time, past or present, by either [partner], or any combination of such names, which may, but need not, be separated by a hyphen.” Haw. Rev. Stat. § 574-1.7

After the Hawaii State Department of Health accepts information that a civil union ceremony was performed, parties to a civil union may request and obtain certified copies of the civil union certificate. See http://hawaii.gov/health/vital-records/vital-records/civilunion/index.html. The Department of Health’s website states that certified copies of vital records are acceptable for legal and governmental transactions. See id. Agency policy recognizes certified copies of original vital records as an acceptable form of evidence. See POMS RM 10210.085(A).

The Department of Health provides a temporary on-line document as evidence of the civil union until certified copies of the civil union certificate are available: “Agencies that are provided the temporary certificate and the Locator ID. 8 by the couple will be able to access a secure Department of Health website to determine that the civil union occurred.” See http://hawaii.gov/health/vital-records/vital-records/civilunion/ecurs.pdf. Hawaii also issues temporary on-line documents for marriages. See http://hawaii.gov/health/vital-records/vital-records/marriage/emrs.pdf (last visited Jan. 27, 2012). These temporary documents are not acceptable forms of evidence for establishing the existence of the civil union or marriage.9 See POMS RM 10210.085(A).

Conclusion

Effective January 1, 2012, Hawaii Revised Statute § 572B provided partners to a civil union the same rights and benefits available to married persons, including the right to adopt the middle or last name of one’s partner. A Hawaii civil union certificate, or a certified copy thereof, issued on or after January 1, 2012, is acceptable evidence for a name change on SSA documents.


Footnotes:

[1]

See http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2011/bills/GM1101_.PDF (last visited Jan. 27, 2012).

[2]

An “agent” is a person appointed by the Department of Health solely to issue licenses upon review of the necessary proofs, and may not perform civil union ceremonies. Haw. Rev. Stat. §§ 572B-1, 572B-4(d), 572B-5, 572B-6.

[3]

The license becomes void 30 days after issuance. Haw. Rev. Stat. § 572B-5(b).

[4]

Upon successful registration as a civil union performer, the performer will receive an electronic link to her license, as well as a username and password for the civil union electronic registration system. http://hawaii.gov/health/permits/trades/civilunion.html (last visited Jan. 27, 2012, and indicating update on Dec. 19, 2011). The electronic registration system became available to civil union performers on January 1, 2012 at 12:00 a.m. Id.

[5]

After the Hawaii State Department of Health accepts information that a civil union ceremony was performed, it will issue a temporary on-line civil union certificate. See http://hawaii.gov/health/vital-records/vital-records/civilunion/index.html. The temporary certificate will be valid for 90 days. See http://hawaii.gov/health/vital-records/vital-records/civilunion/ecurs.pdf (last visited Jan. 27, 2012). When the temporary certificate is no longer available, parties to a civil union may request and obtain certified copies of the civil union certificate from the Department of Health. See http://hawaii.gov/health/vital-records/vital-records/civilunion/index.html.

[6]

Hawaii also recognizes a legal relationship called “reciprocal beneficiaries.” See Haw. Rev. Stat. § 572C-1 et seq. In contrast to civil union partners, reciprocal beneficiaries do not have the same rights and obligations under the law as married persons. See Haw. Rev. Stat. § 572C-6. Documents reflecting a registered reciprocal beneficiary relationship should not be accepted for name change purposes.

[7]

The dissolution of civil union will also be a lawful name change event under Hawaii law. See Haw. Rev. Stat. § 574-5(a)(2)(B) (permitting name change in divorce proceedings to name used prior to marriage), § 580-1 (amended Jan. 1, 2012) (extending jurisdiction of family court to include annulment, divorce and separation of civil unions “in the same manner as marriages”).

[8]

A “Locator ID” is an authorization code issued to applicants for a civil union certificate and provided on their payment receipt. See id.

[9]

Although the Department of Health refers to this document as a “temporary certificate,” we confirmed with Hawaii’s State Registrar of Vital Statistics that the document does not constitute a certified copy of the original civil union certificate.


To Link to this section - Use this URL:
http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/1502705014
PR 02705.014 - Hawaii - 02/26/2014
Batch run: 02/26/2014
Rev:02/26/2014