Look, I know, no one likes going to the DMV. Even if it all goes as smoothly as possible, there is waiting in line, and probably talking to someone underpaid and surly, and waiting around for your number to be called, and so on. No one wakes up, swings their legs jauntily over the side of the bed, bouncing with excitement to go to the DMV. And I get that, I do. I didn’t set my alarm for 6:30 this morning so I could be at the DMV right when it opened because I was SUPER EXCITED to go, or because I was dying to get a new license (I’m actually kinda sad to see my California one go), or because gosh darn it, standing in line is fun. No, I went because I’m supposed to- this is what a generally law-abiding citizen does when moving from state to state- you get a new license, you register your car, you pay state taxes, you stand in line with everyone else.
And OF COURSE, I spent a good amount of time on the Georgia Department of Driver Services website, trying to make sure I had all the documents I needed to obtain this license, because waiting in line for NO REASON is infuriating. I thought I had everything- passport, social security card, proof of residence, my unexpired license. But after 20 minutes of line to get to the woman who gives you a number (not even the person who could help me obtain the license. Just the line to stand in another line, although there were chairs for the second part), it turns out I actually need TWO proofs of residence. That sounds wrong- two documents providing proof of residence? Why is there not a simpler way to say that?
Ok, FINE. I didn’t scour the website ENOUGH, apparently, and I missed the part about needing TWO documents to prove residence, so I am JUST fine taking this one on the nose. It’s my fault. I get it.
On the list of approved documents to prove residency, I see that I can bring in a bill for water or garbage or gas or what have you. But I don’t work. Generally, all those bills are in J’s name, because she is employed, and therefore is capable of paying those bills. Of course, this is not exactly how it works, but for the sake of simplicity, let’s say that it is, so I cannot use this as proof of residency.
The state of Georgia has provided for women in my situation- all I have to do is bring in the unexpired Georgia license of a spouse or relative residing in the same household, and this will provide proof of residency. Ok, fine- I suppose I can wait for J to get HER license, in between working 60 hour weeks and driving 60 miles a day to and from work, once we get a bill in her name delivered to the house.
OK, though, seriously? The law states that you have THIRTY DAYS to get new licences and register your cars from the day you establish residency. But you most likely have to wait about 30 days to get a bill with your name and new address delivered, so this deadline is ALREADY virtually impossible to meet, even if you DON’T have to wait for your spouse to get licensed. I know, I know. No one is gonna pull me over for driving with California plates and ask me when I moved here, and then haul me off to jail because it was TWO months ago, not less than 30 days. I get it. But COME ON. It’s the law, and I like obeying the law.
BUT HERE’S THE THING, and thank you for reading six hundred words to get here- how do I prove that J is my spouse? Georgia does not allow domestic partnerships, and I seriously doubt showing up with my Canadian marriage license is going to be good enough. It’s not like I can skate by on J’s androgynous first name- people often mistake her for my husband when all they see is our names written down- if I have to bring her actual driver’s license with me, it’s gonna say RIGHT ON IT that she’s female.
(It just occurred to me that I could pass her off as my sister- we have the same last name, but you know. The law, and the part where I like obeying it).
If we were a heterosexual couple, I’d just tuck our marriage license in my bag, as added proof, and be on my way. But here in America, I have no such document. I can, obviously, just GO, and SEE what happens, but as I covered in the opening bit, no one LIKES to go to the DMV. No one goes there without being reasonably certain they’re going to walk out of there with what they came for, and since I don’t KNOW that just trying has a chance in hell of working, I’m… not going to.
It’s not really a big deal, in all honesty- it turns out J applied for the water bill in both our names; when that comes, I’ll set my alarm for 6:30 again and go stand in line a second time. I’ll get the stupid license, and I’ll get the cars registered. But it’s another little thing, on top of all the OTHER little things, that makes not being legally married a hassle.
PS-Honestly, it would be better if I still worked- I could show up with my own W2 and our lease agreement, and I’d have been done by now. But TONS of hetero women stay home with their children, and the law provides for them in multiple ways- they can get licenses, they can contribute to IRA accounts, they can obtain their husband’s military pensions. I don’t see why it should be so different for me.
PPS- This is also why a state-by-state approach isn’t the answer to gay marriage. What was I supposed to do, tell J to QUIT HER JOB because it moved us to a place where our union is unrecognized? IN THIS ECONOMY?
PPPS- for those of you keeping track at home, J’s adoption of Olivia has been approved. She has filed the paperwork in LA County, and we are awaiting a court date. For this court date, all three of us must appear before the judge. We will have to fly to CA, pay for a place to stay, and rent a car. J will miss work, at least one day, for us to spend at the courthouse. A million little things, all piled up.