Basic (03-06)

PR 02705.016 Illinois

A. PR 11-100 MOS-Request for Legal Opinion

DATE: May 5, 2011

1. SYLLABUS

An Illinois civil union certificate issued on or after June 1, 2011 is acceptable evidence of a name change.

2. OPINION

QUESTION PRESENTED

You asked whether SSA should allow name changes, for enumeration purposes, based on Illinois civil unions between opposite-sex as well as same-sex couples beginning June 1, 2011, when a new state law recognizing civil unions goes into effect. For the reasons discussed below, we conclude that Illinois will allow a party to a civil union (either opposite-sex or same-sex) established on or after June 1, 2011, to change his or her name, and will accept an Illinois civil union certificate as proof of a name change. Therefore, SSA can consider an Illinois civil union to be a name change event for enumeration purposes.

BACKGROUND

In February 2011, the Illinois General Assembly passed the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act. Pub. Act 96-1513, 2010 Ill. Legis. Serv. (West) [hereinafter Civil Union Act] (to be codified at 750 Ill. Comp. Stat. 75/1 et seq.). The law will go into effect on June 1, 2011. Relevant portions of the Civil Union Act are noted below:

“Civil union” means a legal relationship between two persons, of either the same or opposite sex, established pursuant to the Civil Union Act. See Civil Union Act § 10.

“Party to a civil union” means, and shall be included in, any definition or use of the terms “spouse”, “family”, “immediate family”, “dependent”, “next of kin”, and other terms that denote the spousal relationship, as those terms are used throughout the law. See id.

“A party to a civil union is entitled to the same legal obligations, responsibilities, protections, and benefits as are afforded or recognized by the law of Illinois to spouses, whether they derive from statute, administrative rule, policy, common law, or any other source of civil or criminal law.” Id. § 20.

The provisions of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act pertaining to dissolution (750 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/401-5/413) and declaration of invalidity (id. 5/301-5/306) shall apply to civil unions. See id. § 45.

DISCUSSION

According to SSA policy, in order to process a name change based on a marriage, civil union, or domestic partnership event, evidence of the name change event, the new name, and identity is required. [1] See POMS RM 10212.055. SSA will consider a civil union to be a name change event if the relevant state allows for the establishment of civil unions, see POMS RM 10212.040(A), and either (1) state law specifically allows a person to change his or her name based on a civil union, or (2) under state law, a civil union is equivalent to a marriage. See POMS PR 02705.008 (PR 07-162), PR 02705.032 (PR 08-043), PR 02705.033 (PR 07-072); see also PR 02707.055 (PR 09-169) (similar analysis for domestic partnerships). A civil union certificate issued by a state which recognizes civil unions is acceptable both as evidence of the name change event and as evidence of the new name, if the new name can be derived from the document. See POMS RM 10212.015, RM 10212.040, RM 10212.055.

Beginning June 1, 2011, Illinois will allow for the establishment of civil unions. See Civil Union Act, supra. Although the Illinois Civil Union Act is silent as to whether a party to a civil union may change his or her name, it appears that the state will allow such name changes as a matter of policy. For example, an Illinois resident may request a corrected driver’s license or identification card due to a name change by providing “acceptable identification to create a link pertaining to the change between the previous information and the new information.” Ill. Admin. Code tit. 92, § 1030, app. B(c), (h); see also Illinois Secretary of State, Acceptable Identification, http://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/departments/drivers/drivers_license/acceptable_id.html (last visited April 28, 2011). We contacted the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office of the General Counsel and were informed that they will be accepting civil union certificates for a change of name on driver’s licenses effective June 1, 2011.

In addition, the Civil Union Act makes clear that a civil union is equivalent to a marriage under Illinois law. Specifically, under the Civil Union Act, the term “party to a civil union” means and is included in the definition of “spouse” and other terms that denote the spousal relationship. See Civil Union Act § 10. Moreover, a party to a civil union is entitled to the same legal obligations, responsibilities, protections, and benefits as are granted to a spouse under Illinois law, and statutory provisions concerning the dissolution and declaration of invalidity of marriages also apply to civil unions. See id. §§ 20, 45. An Illinois marriage certificate may be used as proof of a name change for various purposes. See, e.g., Ill. Admin. Code tit. 20, § 470.50(c)(2) (temporary identification cards for released offenders), tit.68, § 1410.210 (home inspector license), tit. 68, § 1440.450 (auction license), tit. 68, § 1450.150(a) (real estate license), tit. 68, § 1455.210 (real estate appraiser license), tit. 77, § 750.1895 (food service sanitation manager certification); Mem. from Reg. Chief Counsel, Chicago, to Deputy Assoc. Gen. Counsel, Office of Program Law, Request for Regional Chief Counsel Opinions on Legal Name Changes (Jan. 30, 2006) (driver’s license).

Thus, we believe that Illinois will allow a person to change his or her name based on a civil union established on or after June 1, 2011, and will accept a civil union certificate as proof of a name change. This applies to both opposite-sex and same-sex civil unions. See Civil Union Act § 10. Accordingly, SSA should accept a civil union certificate issued by the state of Illinois for a civil union established on or after June 1, 2011, as evidence of a name change event. See POMS RM 10212.040(B). We recommend that POMS RM 10212.040(A) be updated to include Illinois as a state which allows for the establishment of civil unions effective June 1, 2011. We have included suggested draft language below this memorandum for your convenience.

CONCLUSION

For the reasons discussed above, we conclude that SSA may allow name changes, for enumeration purposes, based on civil unions established in Illinois between opposite-sex as well as same-sex couples on or after June 1, 2011. As a result, an Illinois civil union certificate may be used in the same manner as an Illinois marriage certificate as proof of a name change. We have suggested draft language to update the relevant POMS provision.

Donna L. C~
Regional Chief Counsel, Region V
By: _____________________

Cristine B~
Assistant Regional Counsel

B. PR 06-090 Legal Name Change - Same Sex Civil Union in Cook County - REPLY

DATE: March 8, 2006

1. SYLLABUS

A domestic partnership certificate issued in Cook County, Illinois to a same-sex couple cannot be used as proof of a legal name change. Illinois does not recognize the validity of same-sex marriages or civil unions (Illinois is not required to recognize “civil unions” entered into in the State of Vermont.) A domestic partnership registration in Cook County, Illinois does not constitute a legal basis for a name change in the State of Illinois.

2. OPINION

In your e-mail dated February 7, 2005, you asked whether a person can use a same sex civil union certificate as proof of a legal name change in Cook County, Illinois. For the reasons discussed below, we conclude that a domestic partnership certificate issued in Cook County to a same-sex couple cannot be used as proof of a legal name change. In addition, the city of Minneapolis, Minnesota, maintains a similar domestic partnership registry. As in Cook County, a domestic partnership certificate issued in Minneapolis to a same-sex couple cannot be used as proof of a legal name change.

At the outset, we note that Illinois does not recognize the validity of same-sex marriages or civil unions. See 750 ILL. COMP. STAT. ANN. 5/213.1; 2000 Ill. Atty. Gen. Op. 017 (Illinois not required to recognize “civil unions” entered into under laws of Vermont). Cook County, however, gives limited recognition to same-sex couples by allowing them to register as domestic partners and by issuing domestic partnership certificates. See Cook County Ordinance 03-O-18, http://www.cookctyclerk.com/html/070103orddoc.htm. According to the Cook County Clerk's Office, which administers the program, the registry does not create any new legal rights, but is intended to make it easier to obtain insurance and other benefits from companies that offer them to partners of gay and lesbian employees. See Cook County Clerk's Office, Domestic Partnership Registry, http://www.cookctyclerk.com/sub/domestic_partnership_registry.asp. Thus, the domestic partnership registration does not constitute a legal basis for a name change in the state of Illinois, and the domestic partnership certificate is not recognized as documentary proof of a name change. We spoke to a staff person at the Cook County Clerk's Office, who verified this information.

During the course of our research, we found another local government within our region that has a domestic partnership registry--Minneapolis, Minnesota. Our findings with respect to the Minneapolis domestic partnership registry are essentially the same as that of Cook County. Minnesota, like Illinois, does not recognize the validity of same-sex marriages or civil unions. See MINN. STAT. ANN. § 517.03. However, the city of Minneapolis gives limited recognition to same-sex couples by allowing them to register as domestic partners and by issuing domestic partnership certificates. See Minneapolis Code of Ordinances § 142.10 et seq., http://www.municode.com/resources/gateway.asp?pid=11490&sid=23 (click “Title 7,” then click “Chapter 142"). The main purposes of the registry are to provide for visitation privileges in Minnesota health care facilities and to make it easier for employers to provide benefits to registered partners. See City of Minneapolis, Domestic Partners Registration, http://www.ci.minneapolis. mn.us/domestic-partner-registration/; Minneapolis Code of Ordinances §§ 142.10, 142.70. The domestic partnership registration, however, does not constitute a legal basis for a name change in the state of Minnesota, and the domestic partnership certificate is not recognized as documentary proof of a name change. We spoke to a staff person at the Minneapolis City Clerk's Office, who verified this information.

Thus, as discussed above, Cook County, Illinois, and the city of Minneapolis, Minnesota, give limited recognition to same-sex couples by allowing them to register as domestic partners and by issuing domestic partnership certificates. However, a domestic partnership registration does not constitute a legal basis for a name change in either Illinois or Minnesota, and a domestic partnership certificate cannot be used as proof of a legal name change.


Footnotes:

[1]

Although Illinois recognizes the common law right to change one’s name, see Chaney v. Civil Service Commission, 412 N.E.2d 497, 500 (Ill. 1980), SSA does not follow common law, but rather, statutory law, when it comes to changing a person’s name for enumeration purposes. See POMS RM 10212.015(B).


To Link to this section - Use this URL:
http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/1502705016
PR 02705.016 - Illinois - 05/17/2011
Batch run: 06/25/2015
Rev:05/17/2011