Write to Congress

Please write to your Senators and Congressional Representative asking them to sponsor legislation restoring citizens’ right to use their middle name as their legal name. You can find the name, address, and phone number of your senators and representatives at www.contactingthecongress.org/. See Congressional addresses for the names and mailing addresses of Middle-Namers who are current members of Congress.

You might mention any difficulties you may have experienced because of the Social Security Administration’s 2011 policy requiring defining legal name as only a person’s first given name and surname.

Possible points for your letter include:

●In 2011, the Social Security Administration adopted policy declaring that a person’s legal name consists only of their first given name and their last name.

●Previously, both the SSA and the US State Department recognized all names on a person’s birth certificate as part of his or her legal name, and permitted individuals known by their middle name to obtain a Social Security card and passport under that name. (See www.middlenamers.com/ssa-policy/ and www.middlenamers.com/us-state-department-policy/ )

●Now the SSA requires people to legally change their name if they want to use their middle name as their identifying name.

●Because many agencies are required to conform their identity policies with the SSA, Middle-Namers now face several civil disabilities:

● Because the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires people to file income tax returns under the name on their Social Security cards, and this name is in turn used in employment and personnel records, the policy forces Middle-Namers to be employed and pay taxes under names by which they are not known.
●The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issues Medicare and Medicaid cards in a person’s SSA name but reduces all middle names to initials. The CMS requires that the name on claims, supplemental policies, and correspondence with the CMS match the name on the Medicare/Medicaid card, thus forcing the medical records of Middle-Namers to be kept under names by which they are not known.
●States must now issue driver’s licenses in a person’s SSA name, even if that person previously obtained a driver’s license with his or middle name under common law provisions recognized by the state’s courts and legislature. This forces such persons to now change their names on their driver’s licenses or forfeit the privilege of driving (Leone et al. v. Commissioner Indiana BMV, No. 48S02-0910-CV-505, 2010).
●Because the Real ID Act of 2005 requires a government-issued ID to open a bank account, those accounts, personal checks, and other financial records of Middle-Namers must now bear names by which they are not known.
●Some states now require a government-issued ID in order to vote, and individuals may be denied the right to vote if a discrepancy exists between the name on the voter rolls and their SSA name.

●According to the SSA, their policy can be changed only by Congress.

●While some courts have held that a middle name is no part of a person’s legal name, those rulings have pertained to cases in which the name in question belonged to parties known by their first names. In cases pertaining to persons known by a middle name, courts have consistently upheld their right to use that name as their legal identity:

US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, US v. Winter, 13 Blatchf. 276, Fed. Case. No. 16, 743 (1876)
State v. Peterson, 70 Me 216 [1879]).
Binfield v. State, 15 Neb. 484, 19 N.W. 607 [1884]
(Steinmann v. Strimple, 29 Mo. App. 485 [1888]
Hartman v. Thompson, 104 Md. 389 [1906]
Shaffer v. Levenson Wrecking Co., 82 N.J. L 61, 81 Atl. 434 [1911]
Loser v. Plainfield Savings Bank, 128 N.W. 1101 [1911]
Laflin v. Steytler, 14 L.R.A. 690, 146 Pa. 434 [1892]

●Americans have been using middle names as primary identifying names and conducting legal matters under those names since colonial days. Some of the more noteworthy Americans to have used their middle name as their legal name include Presidents Grover Cleveland, Woodrow Wilson, and Calvin Coolidge; Vice President Dan Quayle; First Ladies Eleanor Roosevelt and Rosalynn Carter; Presidential candidates Ross Perot, Mitt Romney, Rick Perry; U.S. Supreme Court Justice Wayne Macveagh; Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Frank Murphy; Secretary of the Treasury Michael Blumenthal; Attorney General Ramsey Clark; Secretary of State Dean Rusk; FBI Directors J. Edgar Hoover and L. Patrick Gray; Surgeon General C. Everett Koop; first director of the Peace Corps, Sargent Shriver; astronauts Scott Carpenter and Gordon Cooper; business tycoons Steve Forbes, J. Paul Getty, J. Willard Marriott, Rupert Murdoch, T. Boone Pickens, T. Rowe Price; Ted Turner, Montgomery Ward; authors F. Scott Fitzgerald, Langston Hughes, Harper Lee; celebrity lawyer F. Lee Bailey; hundreds of members of Congress, governors, entertainers, athletes, and scientists (see www.middlenamers.com/).

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