- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 11, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - Like many women in North Dakota, Rep. Marie Strinden legally lost her middle name when she got married thanks to a nuanced state law that she and other newlyweds are trying to change.

“It’s emotional to let go of that part of you,” said the Grand Forks Democrat, who tied the knot on New Year’s Eve.

Current state law allows residents three names - first, middle and last - unless a court order is sought. The law allows for a hyphenated last name, such as a combination of a married couple’s last names, but that can cause headaches because “both last names must then be used on every legal document signed in the future,” said Rep. Thomas Beadle, a newlywed Fargo Republican.

Beadle and Strinden are pushing legislation that would allow residents who get married to retain their middle name and former surname when taking their spouse’s last name.

Beadle said the option would have avoided the unwanted surprise his new wife encountered when they went to a county recorder’s office to get a marriage license. He said his wife was told it was impossible under North Dakota law to keep both her middle name and surname if she wanted to take her husband’s last name.

“As you can imagine, this wasn’t well received,” Beadle told the Senate Judiciary Committee. “I am now bringing this bill before you to make sure future brides aren’t faced with similar circumstances.”

The committee didn’t immediately vote on the legislation, which was unanimously approved by the House in January.

Strinden noted that her legal last name is now Jensen, but she still is known in the Legislature by her maiden name, which is legally now her middle name.

“I’m proud of both last names,” she said, adding that her legally lost middle name - Jeanine - won’t be forgotten: “My mom will use it when I’m in trouble.”

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