An LGBT Person’s Guide To Legal Name Changes In Virginia

Jacob Haley

Name changes are one of the most frequent inquiries we receive at Equality Virginia.  This is an issue that impacts the entire LGBT spectrum.

We read about Jacob Haley’s incident last week when he was wrongfully denied a legal name change by a Louisa County Circuit Court judge.

Haley is a transgender man who wanted to change his legal name from his female birth name to his male name.  This should have been a straightforward process until he encountered a judge who moved away from the legal process and began asking for medical paperwork. further interviews several trans people that have successfully had a name change.

No additional documentation is required for a legal name change in Virginia.   While the Department of Motor Vehicles requires medical documentation for a gender marker change, Haley should have been granted this request for a simple name change.

Mandy & Kristyn faced changes when changing the name on their driver’s licenses after marrying in 2012.

According to the Code of Virginia, § 8.01-217, any person desiring to change his own name may apply to the circuit court of the county or city in which he resides.

The order shall contain no identifying information other than the applicant’s former name or names, new name, and current address.

A simple application for name change is on the Virginia Judicial System’s website and can be completed with a notary public. Form CC-1411 includes basic instructions to submit a copy to the court and does not request attachments.   Filing fees are paid in cash or by check or money order to the circuit court of residence.

We have also heard challenges from gay and lesbian couples wishing to change their names after they have been married out-of-state.  Virginia’s 2006 Anti-Marriage Amendment prevents state agency from recognizing any of these partnerships.

Equality Virginia told the story of Mandy and Kristyn who were married in DC in 2012, but denied a name change at their local DMV.

DMV clarified its policy this year citing on its website it will not accept marriage certificates from gay and lesbian couples or civil unions.

Couples wishing to change their name also must receive a court order to present to the DMV following the same process above.

While there have been cases of arbitrary judges denying name change orders, many couples have successfully completed a name change.  If you encounter problems, seek counsel through our Legal Resources and report discrimination through our Tell It program to share your story.

What We Did Saturday Night

If you were one of the 1,000 joining us on Saturday, thank you for bringing your energy that night.  We’re sure you felt the electricity in the room just as much as we did!  Equality Virginia couldn’t have made this evening possible without you.

If you couldn’t make it this year, find out what we did Saturday night below.

While buzz about marriage equality was top-of-mind with recent headlines, Saturday night, we gained renewed focus to keep pushing for workplace protections for LGBT Virginians inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity.

We all play a part in creating change.  The stories we shared about our OUTstanding Virginians and our local heros show we are fortunate to have many standing up for equality, but we still have much work to do to build a safer communities across Virginia.

On Saturday, it was encouraging to see so many friends looking out for us. Now, we must continue doing our work at home to make sure they can do their work in local office, in the General Assembly, at the Governor’s desk, and in Congress to make this nation a more equal place for all.

Yours in equality,

James Parrish
Executive Director
Michael Sutphin
Dinner Chair


We Reunited With A Longtime Friend

We recognized Sen. Warner for his longstanding commitment to the LGBT community and for being the first standing Virginia Governor to issue an executive order prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Sen. Mark Warner joined us several years ago at the Commonwealth Dinner and noted the shift he’s seen in his address to the crowd.

“Ten years ago this dinner merely had 200 people. Now it is sold out, and it is representative of the changing face of Virginia,” Warner said. “It’s been a remarkable march of progress, but the fight is not done.”

He also noted that majority of U.S. Senators now support marriage equality and hopes the same for the Supreme Court.

See more pictures from the event on Facebook. 

We Congratulated These OUTstanding Virginians

Each year, Equality Virginia honors those who have spent their lives committed to equality for those in the LGBT community.  These courageous agents for change are our OUTstanding Virginians.

From a 95-year-old activist who’s still active in the gay community to a transgender advocate working against domestic violence, on Saturday, we recognized seven movers and shakers in Virginia’s LGBT community.  And for the first time, we added two committed allies to the ranks of our honorees.

Watch the video to meet our OUTstanding Virginians.

We Got A Promise From Terry McAuliffe

Virginia’s Governor can issue an executive order inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity and appoint LGBT-friendly people to boards that govern our adoption and foster care system.

We extended an invitation to both gubernatorial candidates for this year’s race.  Terry McAuliffe joined us and pledged his commitment to standing up for the LGBT community.

As governor, McAuliffe promised to reinstate the executive order that would protect all of Virginia’s state employees from discrimination in the workplace.

Read press coverage from Sunday’s Richmond Times-Dispatch

We Recognized This Local Hero From Roanoke

When Richard Henegar, Jr. found out about a college student’s car being vandalized in a nearby town, he stepped up and went above the call of duty.

A video clip from the local news station went viral and the nation took notice. In fact, Ellen Degeneres took notice of what happened at Richard’s body shop Quality Auto Paint & Body in Roanoke, VA.

We were honored to recognize Richard on Saturday and he was a true rock star that night – the crowd loved him!

Watch this clip from “Ellen” to see Richard’s act of kindness.


We Got Kisses From Cory

Last year, we raised just over $33,000 from our special ask, so we knew we had to bring the energy this year.  We asked Todd Rosenlieb, the director of TRDance in Norfolk, to deliver this year’s ask.

Todd set a goal to beat $40,000.  While we know he was well on his way, then Mayor Cory Booker jumped on stage and offered kisses to anyone who gave $10 per month.  It pushed giving and pledges to over $45,000.  Thank you to all who contributed!  We appreciate your support.

If you would like to make a gift online, click here.

We Had Our Spirits Lifted

When Mayor Booker returned to the stage to deliver his keynote, he moved the crowd with personal stories and bits of wisdom.  Here are standout moments from his speech:

Speaking about those who fought and died for their rights before us.  “You drink deeply from wells you didn’t dig.”

Booker said as long as there is inequality in this country we are headed in the wrong direction. “This is the United States of America,” he said. “It’s not United Airlines where some of you can sit in first class and some people are back in coach. You can’t have two types of citizenship in this country.”

He delivered an empowering call to action.  “I see something on TV and say, ‘somebody should do something about that.’  Then I realize, ‘I AM SOMEBODY!”

“The power of the people is greater than the people in power.”

“When you feel the security of rights, you make sure everyone around you can enjoy them as well.”

“I’m not talking about just gay rights. I’m talking about your rights, my right, human rights, American rights!”

And…We Danced

Thank you to Platinum Sponsors Altria and Weinstein Properties and all of our sponsors for making the 10th Annual Commonwealth Dinner possible.

MEDIA ADVISORY: Gay & Lesbian Couples Rally for Marriage Equality across Virginia on Valentine’s Day


Rev. Dr. Robin Gorsline, People of Faith for Equality in Virginia | [email protected] | 804.519.3196

Kevin Clay, Equality Virginia | [email protected] | 804.643.4816

Victoria Bragunier, Alliance for Progressive Values | [email protected] | 804.517.5206

Five Communities Gather for Events Supporting Marriage Equality – PLUS Press Conference w. Del. Scott Surovell in Richmond (see footnote)

What:  Statewide Marriage Equality Rallies & Press Conference in Richmond

When & Where: Thursday, February 14

    10 a.m., Arlington Judicial Center, 1425 N. Courthouse Rd., Arlington, VA 22201
    3 p.m., Charlottesville Clerk’s Office, 315 E. High St., Charlottesville, VA 22902
    12 p.m. Hampton General District Court, 236 N. King St., Hampton, VA 23669
    12 p.m., Richmond Circuit Court, North 9th St, Richmond, VA 23219
    12 p.m., Winchester Courthouse, 5 N. Kent St., Winchester, VA 22601

Who: Leaders in the faith community and supporters of equality gather with loving gay and lesbian couples who will apply for marriage licenses at their local clerk’s office.

*Press Conference in Richmond:                         

10:45 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
5 East Conference Room
General Assembly Building 1000 Bank St., Richmond, VA 23219

Join Del. Scott Surovell with local community and faith leaders for this press conference discussing recent proposed legislation in Virginia supporting marriage equality.  Surovell will be joined by gay and lesbian couples impacted by lack of relationship recognition.

At the beginning of this year’s General Assembly, Del. Scott Surovell (D-44) introduced HJ 665, a resolution that was the necessary first step toward repealing the Marshall-Newman amendment to the Constitution of Virginia that denies all relationship recognition to gay and lesbian couples.  This resolution was tabled and therefore killed in committee, not even bringing the issue to a floor vote.

More Info:                                                                                              

Marriage between gay and lesbian couples is currently not legal in Virginia and relationships are not recognized because of the 2006 Marshall-Newman Amendment.

“I can say confidently that the day is coming when legal marriage will be available to all Virginians. That constitutional provision will be overturned—by the voters,” Rev. Dr. Robin Gorsline, president of People of Faith for Equality in Virginia said.  “History is always, ultimately, ‘standing on the side of love.’ The tide of love will wash out the stain of hate and ignorance.”

While close-minded voices in Virginia are loud, these religious voices are rising in unison and speaking with love in support of equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Virginians.

“We must show that all Virginians care about marriage equality,” Equality Virginia Executive Director James Parrish said. “This Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to stand up for love – we’re excited to work with People of Faith for Equality in Virginia to recognize gay and lesbian couples in communities across the state.”

This year’s Witness for Marriage event takes place in five communities across Virginia on Valentine’s Day: Arlington, Charlottesville, Hampton, Richmond, and Winchester.

“February 14th is celebrated by many as a day to get married. In the Commonwealth of Virginia, gay and lesbian couples are still denied this right. This is unconscionable, and we urge all Virginians to stand together in support of marriage equality.” Victoria Bragunier, Director of Alliance for Progressive Values, added.


MEDIA ADVISORY: Senator Mark Warner, Special Guests Join Equality Virginia Commonwealth Dinner

Kevin Clay | [email protected] | 804.643.4816

Mayor Cory Booker To Address Sold-Out Crowd This Saturday

WHAT: Press Invitation to Attend Equality Virginia’s 10th Annual Commonwealth Dinner

WHEN: Saturday, April 6, 2013, 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.

WHERE: Greater Richmond Convention Center, 403 N. Third St., Richmond, VA

WHO: U.S. Senator Mark Warner, invited gubernatorial candidates, Mayor Cory Booker, join Virginia’s largest gala for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.


For ten years, Equality Virginia, the statewide advocacy organization has been bringing the LGBT community together for the Annual Commonwealth Dinner; and, in a time where the climate for equality is steadily improving, there is reason to celebrate.

“More Americans than ever believe that LGBT people should be treated equally under the law and we know Mayor Cory Booker is going to energize our guests to continue creating change here at home to bring Virginia into the fold with the rest of the nation,” Executive Director James Parrish said.

Booker, currently mayor of Newark, NJ, is a rising political star known for his innovative ideas, bold actions, and longtime support of LGBT equality. He has been named TIME’s 100 most influential people, and has also received recognition in Esquire and the New York Times Magazine for his leadership.

In addition to Booker’s keynote address, Equality Virginia will highlight Sen. Mark Warner for his longstanding commitment to equality including his actions in 2005, when he was the first Virginia Governor to ban employment discrimination based upon sexual orientation within state government. He recently lent his name to help overturn the Defense of Marriage Act.

“To me, repeal of DOMA is an issue of fairness. Under DOMA, committed relationships legally recognized by some states are made financially and legally unequal in many ways: taxes, inheritance, insurance benefits, and a thousand other rights and benefits that the federal government routinely grants to other married couples,” Warner said.

Invited speakers also include this year’s gubernatorial candidates addressing the crowd on the importance of equality in the role of Governor of Virginia.


Equality Virginia is a statewide, non-partisan education, outreach, and advocacy organization seeking equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Virginians. Since 1989, EV has worked to end discrimination, protect families and build safe communities. More information is online at Connect on or Twitter @EqualityVA.