I haven’t blogged for a few days for two reasons. The first – and happier – reason is that I’ve been playing the beta test for the new World of Warcraft expansion.
The more irritating reason is due to stress over having once again been stymied in my attempt to obtain my son something that should be simple to get – a government issued state ID card.
Our background is not that difficult or unusual. My son was born in New Orleans. His father is no longer present in his life. Like virtually everyone in the city, we lived somewhere else for several years. During that time, we changed our name legally and have court documents to prove our name change. This happened about a decade ago.
But in the OMV office, despite being presented with school records in his new name, his Social Security card in his new name, medical cards in his new name, the original birth certificate and the court order with raised seal changing the old name to the new name as well as documentation proving I was his mother and had the right to be the person handling this transaction, we were told this was insufficient. What we had to do now, we were told, was change his name on the birth certificate. Moreover we were scolded because “you should have done that in the first place”.
The ignorant “worker” also said we probably would have to have his name changed “in America”. I pointed out the state we had formerly resided in was a state in America. “Oh, I know,” she said, although clearly she didn’t.
We left in a defeated way and I proceeded to try to obtain information on how to change a birth certificate, which is not something I even knew you could do. Eventually I found it, wrote out the two checks that are required, read the extensive rules and filled out the forms, then sent in the paperwork and waited several weeks.
During this time, my son turned eighteen.
You won’t be surprised to hear the upshot of this story, which is they have sent back the un-deposited checks with a form letter saying they refuse to change his birth certificate. Why? Because they “cannot accept an out of state name change judgement”. No reason is given for this decision. It would seem to me this is a direct violation of the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the U.S. Constitution, but Louisiana is famous for deciding it doesn’t need to follow any rules that any stupid federales make.
Their solution? I need to change his name in Louisiana. But how are we to do this?
To change your name in Louisiana, you need to live in the state – lucky for him, now we do. You need to present a petition to the court with your reasons. I should hope the reason of “I already changed my name as a toddler and have been living under it my entire life” would be good enough for them, but I’m beginning to wonder. Then you have to present them with various forms of ID under your “old name” to prove you are the person showing up to change your name.
But he doesn’t have anything under his “old name”, because we changed that name years ago! There are no health records, no ID, no Social Security card. The only thing left is his original birth certificate. Obviously, his name is already changed – by court order, no less. Why are they refusing to cooperate?
And I’m writing about this now because this is bigger than me.
The truly terrifying thing to consider here is the Real ID act. The Real ID act demands everyone use their original birth certificate to obtain identification. This will pin everybody’s ability to get identification on the corrupt and disorganized actions of local, inept, corrupt departments of records like those in Louisiana. Can you smell the impending nightmare?
We are contemplating hiring a lawyer to help us through this mess, because right now we can’t figure out how to get my child his ID – and he is an American citizen, white, born right here in this city, smart, and has never done anything legally wrong. If people like us have to hire a lawyer to get a basic form of paperwork that everyone in our society needs, what must it be like for people who are less advantaged than we are? What about people who are automatically considered to be terrorists or illegal immigrants, or who don’t have the resources to endlessly fight with obstinate, money-grubbing bureaucrats? Are we deliberately creating a lower class of people who will exist in a legal limbo because they can’t obtain the right paperwork?
Right now my son can’t vote, drive, get his GED, get a job, travel, or safely walk outside alone. He is being treated like a criminal and he hasn’t done anything wrong. I have dotted every i and crossed every t. I have written to the governor, who referred me right back to the OMV that turned me away. All this because we legally changed our name in a different state twelve years ago. There’s no excuse for this. He should have been issued his ID pleasantly and with a smile the first day we walked into their office. I should not have to contact five government agencies trying to figure out whose palms I need to grease to get the correct set of papers so he can have the right piece of plastic he needs in order to obtain his rights as an American citizen.
Oh but I forgot, this is supposed to keep us all safe from terrorism, right?
Denying my son an ID for no good reason at all sure makes me feel safer!