Same-sex couples ask Social Security Administration to recognize their Indiana marriage

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A pair of Indiana same-sex couples who were married in June have asked the U.S. Social Security Administration to recognize their marriages.

The two couples –  Alice Hoenigman and Brittany Jones and Kendrel Cooper and Justin Bretz – were among the many who married in late June after Indiana’s marriage statute was ruled unconstitutional. The marriages stopped when the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay.

Since then, both Hoenigman and Cooper filed papers in Marion County to change their last names to that of their respective spouses. However, both were told their requests were being put into a holding file until the state received guidance from the Social Security Administration.

In a letter, their attorney, Richard Mann, charged the refusal to allow Hoenigman and Cooper to take the surnames of their spouses interferes with their right to identify with their spouse.   

“Our clients’ marriages are worthy of federal recognition and they should not be forced to incur the cost and time in filing separate civil actions in order to effectuate their name change as it unjustly labels their marriage as second-tier,” Mann wrote. “Their spouses’ surnames can be derived from those names shown on their marriage certificates and like any opposite-sex marriage certificate should be considered acceptable evidence of their new name.”

The letter stated the Social Security Administration has a duty to process the name change of same-sex couples who were married in Indiana before the stay was issued. Mann asked, on behalf of his clients, that the administration issue a statement that it will recognize marriage records of same-sex couples from Indiana as well as other states.

Dated July 25, 2014, the letter was addressed to Carolyn Colvin, acting commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Marcia Mosely, regional commissioner for the Chicago Region of the Social Security Administration and the Indianapolis field office of the Social Security Administration.

Indianapolis-based Mann is the lead attorney in Bowling et al. v. Pence et al., 1:14-cv-0405, the same-sex marriage case that is still pending in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana.      


  • Same issue today
    I had the same issue occur today at my local social security office. They said they had no direction on this and it would be placed in a hold file. I don't know what steps to take at this point. My partner and I were legally married prior to the stay going into effect. Was there any resolution on this matter?

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