When Melinda Van Komen got married in 1990, she had no idea her new name would become a problem with Utah driver license officials more than 20 years later.
Some Dutch-Americans with the same name, she said, chose to close the space between Van and Komen when they came to the United States generations ago. They may have been thinking ahead.
In the era of Homeland Security and immigration paranoia, Van Komen, whose family chose to keep the space, has tried to make sure that all her children's records match each other.
As her daughter was preparing to get her learner's permit, Van Komen pulled out all four of her children's birth certificates and realized her soon-to-be-driving daughter was the only one whose last name was spelled without a space.
So Van Komen petitioned the Department of Vital Statistics for a correction of a "spelling error" on her birth certificate. After some bureaucratic haggling, the certificate was amended.
When she took her daughter to the Driver License office to get her learner's permit, Van Komen took along her own marriage certificate to fix her incorrectly spelled last name (it didn't have the space) on her driver license.
They were both told by several clerks that the new and improved computer program cannot put a space in a last name.
Van Komen called the main administrative office and was told that the clerks would be able to write the name with the space and that they were required to match the names to other official documents.
But when Van Komen explained what she had been told by the clerks, he put her on hold, then came back to say he was wrong and confirmed there was no way they could put her legal name on the driver license.
Funny. When her husband renewed his license several months earlier, they were able to put the space in his surname. Same with her oldest son.
It could be ugly when they all go to the airport for a family vacation and, as a family, present their inconsistent I.D's to the security guys.
Compassionate Democrat • I mentioned in Friday's column that political activist Merrill Cook will argue at the Utah Supreme Court on Monday that the constitutional rights of his group, Citizens Alliance to Secure Utah's Prosperity (CATSUP), were violated because the Utah Legislature has made it extremely difficult to get an initiative on the ballot.
The group has been gathering signatures for a ballot proposal in Salt Lake County that would require businesses to E-verify the citizenship status of any new hires and empower officials to revoke business licenses of employers who knowingly hire undocumented immigrants.
Because the Legislature moved up the deadline for obtaining signatures and put an untenable time limit constraint on the period when signatures can be gathered, the group came up 4,000 short by the April 15 deadline, Cook will argue.
But it wasn't just the Legislature making it hard on petitioners.
Cook, an old hand at petition drives, said many store chains used to allow petitioners in their parking lots, but no more. Most private businesses have become user unfriendly to activists gathering signatures, Cook said.
The only sympathetic ear he got during the petition drive was from Democratic Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon, who called county libraries and asked them to allow the petitioners inside the libraries to gather signatures on extremely cold days.
And to think, one of Cook's many attempts at running for public office was a shot in 2004 for county mayor against Peter Corroon.