Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Does This Make Me a Victim of Birtherism?

My driver's license is up for renewal, so today I went to renew it. New regulations in Florida require the presentation of certain documents in order to renew, to wit: Proof of U.S. citizenship (e.g. birth certificate); SSN card; two documents confirming current residence; and a marriage certificate to show the link between Karen Maiden Name on the birth certificate and Karen Married Name on the driver's license. That'll teach me not to keep my own name!

We were married in Denmark, so the marriage certificate is Danish, and in four languages! Thank the Lord I've never been divorced or remarried, or I would've had to bring along divorce and marriage documents for each and every marital misadventure, because Florida wants to see the whole painful trail of name changes.

The birth certificate is wallet-sized and sort of resembles a credit card. It includes the Seal of the State of Washington, where I was born, and clearly states that it's a "Birth Record Certification" from the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services. On the reverse it states, THIS CERTIFICATION IS A TRUE ABSTRACT OF THE ORIGINAL BIRTH RECORD OF THE PERSON NAMED ON THE REVERSE SIDE, WHICH RECORD IS ON FILE WITH AND IN OFFICIAL CUSTODY OF THE STATE REGISTRAR OF VITAL STATISTICS AT OLYMPIA. ISSUED UNDER AUTHORITY OF SECTION 43.20.090 REVISED CODE OF WASHINGTON. Signed by some bureaucrat who by now is probably enjoying a nice fat pension.

(Bear with me; I really do intend to get somewhere with this.)

Although not requested, I also brought along my DD Form 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge From Active Duty, just in case I needed to wave it at them and yell something along the lines of, "You can't do this to me--I'm an honorably discharged veteran!"

Once there, the clerk spent quite a long time furrowing her brow over the birth and marriage documents. She accepted all the other documents without incident, but these two made her suspicious, and she took them to her supervisor. At one point a third bureaucrat was summoned to scrutinize these documents which certified two of the most important events in my otherwise pathetic life. What, were they going to deny me a new driver's license because they didn't think my marriage was valid?

No, but in the end they turned me down because in their collective opinion, my birth certificate was not valid and ergo unacceptable.

That birth certificate, obtained and given to me by a parental unit, was accepted for enlistment in the United States Armed Forces. It was accepted when I applied for a passport. It was accepted by the rejecting triumvirate's Danish counterparts when we applied for a marriage license. The United States Air Force, in turn, accepted the marriage license as the basis for changing my last name and later, recognizing me as a military dependent spouse.

But it is unacceptable for the mere renewal of a driver's license in Florida!

Oh, I did pull out the DD Form 214, if only to prove my assertion that I was in the military where that birth certificate was accepted. They did tell me that with the 214 I could get a "V" for Veteran on my new driver's license, and I can't begin to tell you how comforting that was; but I was going to have to contact the State of Washington for a certified birth certificate.

That's costing me $31.50. In the meantime, they kindly issued me a temporary driver's license in case the birth certificate doesn't arrive before the current license's expiration date of March 16th.

Thank you for letting me rant.

1 comment:

Cynthia Sherrick said...

Hope it has all worked out for your license renewal. A renewal for a license you already legally had and just because you turned another year older, required you get a new one.
I've had similar problems with my birth certificate over the years. I finally had to get a new one from Pennsylvannia where I was born and was no easy task since the courthouse had burned down years ago. Sigh.