Michael Dye and Brian Justice, who are legally married in Iowa, asked the Washington County Circuit Court to change their last names to Dye-Justice. They were initially turned down by Circuit Court Judge C. Randall Lowe on the basis of fraud.
"The judge originally said that because these two individuals want to share the last name, they are putting themselves forth as being married," said Kent Willis, executive director of the Virginia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Willis adds that his organization helped the men challenge the ruling using the following argument: "They are putting themselves forward as having a shared home and having a commitment. They aren't presenting to anyone that they are actually married."
Judge Lowe reversed his decision and granted the name change. Last year the same judge denied a similar petition from a lesbian couple, but he also reversed that ruling after the ACLU intervened. It's unclear if these rulings will establish a precedent throughout Virginia.
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