TN 37 (04-15)

PR 02712.015 Idaho

A. PR 15-099 Idaho State LawMarriage Certificate for Same-Sex Couples as Legal Name-Change Document

DATE: January 13, 2015


Accept marriage documents issued to same-sex couples for marriages that took place on October 15, 2014 or later by jurisdictions (town, county or State) in the State of Idaho as evidence of a name change.



On May 13, 2014, the United States District Court for the District of Idaho struck down Idaho’s statutory and constitutional bans on same-sex marriage within the state, and on recognition of out-of-state same-sex marriages, finding that these bans denied gay and lesbian citizens the fundamental right to marry. Latta v. Otter, No. 1:13-cv-482-CWD, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 66417 (D. Idaho May 13, 2014). The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals granted a temporary stay of the district court’s order pending appeal. See Latta v. Otter, Nos. 14-35420 and 14-35421, 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 16057 (9th Cir. May 20, 2014). On October 7, 2014, the court of appeals affirmed the district court. Latta v. Otter, Nos. 14-35420 and 1435421, 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 19152 (9th Cir. Oct. 7, 2014). The state petitioned the Supreme Court for a stay of the circuit court’s order; Justice Antony Kennedy granted an emergency stay on October 8, 2014, pending consideration of the stay by the entire court. Otter v. Latta, 190 L. Ed. 2d 244 (2014). However, the entire Supreme Court, on October 10, 2014, denied the state’s petition. 190 L. Ed. 2d 245 (2014). On October 15, 2014, the circuit court lifted its stay of the district court’s judgment, making same-sex marriage, and recognition of out-of-state same-sex marriages, legal in Idaho as of that date. 1


We are providing this legal opinion under the Program Operations Manual System (POMS) Records Maintenance (RM) 10212.035, Evidence of a Name Change based on a U.S. Same-Sex Marriage. Section D of RM 10212.035 requires the Regional Office to obtain a Regional Chief Counsel opinion when same-sex marriage becomes legal in a state. The issues covered by this POMS provision are as follows:

  1. The date the State will begin issuing marriage licenses and certificates to same-sex couples;

  2. Whether the State permits parties to the same-sex marriage to change their names based on the marriage;

  3. Any change to the status of a prior or new civil union or domestic partnership entered into in the same State; and

  4. Whether a prior entered civil union and domestic partnership must be dissolved before entering a same-sex marriage.


  1. The date the state will begin issuing marriage licenses and certificates to same-sex couples.

    Though the district court ruling came down in May 2014, the circuit court’s stay was in effect until October 15, 2014.  Once that stay lapsed, there was no further legal impediment to same-sex marriage in Idaho. Idaho law has no provision for a waiting period between the application for and issuance of a marriage license. Therefore, the state could issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples effective October 15, 2014.

  2. Whether the state permits parties to a same-sex marriage to change their names based on the marriage.

    A same-sex marriage in Idaho may be the basis for a name change.

    Marriage is an accepted basis for changing one’s name in Idaho. The marriage license contains the names of the parties being married, but does not mandate a particular married name. See Idaho Code § 32-401 (2014) (contents of marriage license). However, the marriage certificate, or a certified copy thereof, is accepted “in all courts and places as presumptive evidence of the fact of such marriage.” Idaho Code § 32-309 (2014). Moreover, state regulations for the issuance of driver’s licenses acknowledge that one’s legal name may change due to marriage.  Idaho Admin. Code These regulations allow either party of a marriage to adopt the last name of the other party, or any combination of the names as a hyphenate. Idaho Admin. Code Therefore, a marriage certificate serves as a valid document for a name change. This is consistent with State of Idaho guidance on changing one’s name after marriage. “Marriage—” (last visited Nov. 21, 2014). This is also consistent with agency policy, which provides a change of name can be based on a validly issued marriage certificate from any state in the nation, so long as the new nam