Blount County same-sex spouse becomes able to change name

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KNOXVILLE (WATE) – A Blount County woman whose same-sex marriage is now recognized in the state was able Monday to change her last name to her spouse’s last name.

The U.S. Supreme Court overturned same-sex marriage bans across the country Friday, including in Tennessee. Knoxville couple Sophy Jesty and Val Tanco challenged for state recognition and their case made it to the highest court in the land.Related Coverage:Same-Sex Marriage

The Schablik couple had been denied several times in the past. Gwen Schablik tried seven different times to change her last name on her driver’s license, but the eighth try worked. She previously went by Gwen Castro.

“We’ll get it fixed okay,” said an employee at the Knoxville/Strawberry Plains Driver Services Center Monday morning.

It was a big day since Schablik has been married to her wife for a few years.

“When I tried to change my name back in 2013 it really frustrated me and made me realize then that I was a second class citizen,” she said.

Gwen Schablik

While filling out the paperwork Monday morning and waiting to hear number 61 called, there was another surprise.

“Congratulations, by the way,” said a woman waiting in line.

The name change is important for the Schabliks because other couples may be struggling with the same thing.

“It feels great to say it officially and knowing that the state has recognized our marriage,” said Schablik. “I just think each couple has their own way of identifying their family.”

What’s in a name? For this couple, it’s progress.

“When I get that hard copy license in the mail that to me will be the day that it is settled,” said Schablik.

The next step for Schablik is advocating for workforce protection and housing protection for same-sex couples who recently married. Marriage licenses are valid for 30 days after they are issued.

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