Michigan 1974: Attorney General Rules Married Woman Can Keep Their Maiden Names
With the latest Supreme Court ruling and what's happening across the United States right now, it certainly feels like we're back in the '70s again! Being a single lady myself, I never thought for one second that someone had to sign off on a woman keeping her maiden name. That is, until I stumbled across this bit of Mitten trivia.
In 1974, then-Michigan Attorney General Frank Kelley issued a landmark ruling that allowed married women to retain their maiden names after marriage. I can't believe this issue was even up for debate!
The original question was posed by the Michigan Board of Nursing in regards to state licenses. A group of married nurses wanted to keep their maiden names on their licenses without jumping through any legal hoops or invalidating their licenses to practice.
In his 1974 ruling AG Kelley issued an opinion that affected households across the state, saying that women are in fact legally allowed to retain their maiden name after marriage. Kelley stated there is nothing in Michigan law which requires women to adopt their husband's surname nor is there anything that says a woman can't change her name again after divorce.
Given today's political climate I find it so forward-thinking that a male attorney general would even rule in favor of women, especially during those times, but it seems AG Kelley was a pretty "hip" guy. The Detroit Free Press even states that Kelley issued another landmark ruling in 1980 when he declared that men could even adopt their wives surnames after marriage if they so choose-- how progressive!