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'Men don't have to do this': Florida resident says DMV discriminates against women in renewing driver's licenses

A woman in Florida says that it is sexist that she must provide a marriage certificate when renewing her driver’s license, to prove that she changed her name when she married. (Photo: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)

A woman from Jacksonville, Fla., alleges that a law discriminates against women who are attempting to renew their driver’s license, forcing them to track down documents that are in some cases decades old to prove that they have changed their name through marriage or divorce.

Debra Williams, who relies on her driver’s license to get to and from doctor appointments, told Action News Jax, “[The DMV turned] me away for a document they say they need from 47 years ago.”

When Williams got married in South Carolina, she changed her surname to her husband’s, as many women do. However, Williams does not have the official marriage license handy, which the DMV is claiming is necessary to issue her a “Real ID.”

“There are other women out here that are talking about it, complaining about it, but they aren’t doing anything about it,” Williams told the outlet.

In order to obtain a “Real ID,” under the new federal law that Florida is complying with, residents must provide documents such as a birth certificate, U.S. passport and proof of residency, and, in the case of anyone who may have changed their last name through marriage or divorce, the evidence of said name change.

“Men don’t have to do this. Only women. And that’s not right,” Williams said.

Williams was informed that obtaining a copy of her certified marriage certificate from South Carolina — if it is possible to locate it — could take six to eight weeks. The problem is that her driver’s license will have expired before then.

Ultimately, the news outlet was able to get Williams her driver’s license one day after putting her in touch with the state. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles told Action News Jax, “The state will work with customers on any transaction in accordance with Real ID requirements.”

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