Friday, August 10, 2012

What's in a (Last) Name?

One subject of much debate for Andy and I has been what do to with our last names.  When we had our wedding, we each decided to keep our individual last names.  However, it really makes sense for us to have a single family last name.  Simple travel as a family could have some challenges with us being two dads let alone any emergencies that could crop up in areas less than accommodating to gay families.  Our thought is that using a single family last name will be best for us in the long run to smooth out any potential roadbumps and also just to make us feel more like a cohesive family.

So when thinking about all of our options, we came up with some general possibilities:
  • Andy's last name (Magee)
  • My last name (Gardner)
  • Hypenating our last names together (Magee-Gardner / Gardner-Magee)
  • Merging our names together (Gargee?)
  • Choosing an entirely new last name (?)
Looking at the options, we first leaned away from choosing one last name or the other.  It would feel weird to have one of us keep our name and then make the other change it without any real reasoning behind it.  Also, being a gay couple means that we really don't have any good precedents to follow.

Next up, we thought about hypenating our last names.  That got knocked down the list pretty easily as hypenated last names can be cumbersome and pose all sorts of fun questions for when our children get married in the future.  What happens if they marry someone with a hypenated last name?  Boom.  4 last names and 3 hyphens.  That sounds dangerous.  Also, our merged name options were pretty dangerous too.

The last option of picking a 'new' last name seemed a bit weird as well until Andy had a great idea.  He suggested that we check our family trees for a common last name.  I thought that was awesome and over the span of a couple weeks a lot of research ensued on  In the end, we had 3 last names in common which were "Bennett," "Hill/Hylle," and "Richards."  Once we got to this point though, neither of us were overly excited by any of these.  If we changed our last names to something new, we wanted it to jump out at us and sound awesome.  Just like marrying someone, you're going to have that last name for a long time so we knew we'd better like it a lot!

That made us pause from the ancestry track and circle back to our initial choices, our current last names (Magee or Gardner).  Neither of us had a strong preference and were a bit reluctant to make the other change.  However, our ancestry research did play a final role in our decision.  On my side, my 3rd great grandmother had a last name of McKee which is essentially the same as Andy's last name.   Decision made: Magee it is!


  1. I had no idea you two were considering this! If I had known I would've made a strong, compelling case for Gargee.
    When does the name change take place? Post-haste? After baby?

    1. There is no compelling case for Gargee!

      The timing is unknown for now. Part of it depends on the November election - if Ref 74 passes in Washington, we'll be "upgrading" our domestic partnership to a civil marriage, and would probably make the change then. If it doesn't pass, we still want to have the name change done before a baby arrives, so we'd figure out something else.

  2. What a major decision! (well, as if adopting a baby isn't a major decision too)
    I'm glad that you found something that YOU TWO are happy with, and excited about. I knew you were pondering this decision and was open to whatever name you chose. But I've been just plain anxious to know what it would be. I like the fact that there is a specific REASON you chose the last name you did - because you have joint "Magee" and "McKee" in common. Rather than just some name out of the air, like "Snaggletooth".
    Love ya always,
    (PS-Brian, I see you guys avoided the last name initial you didn't want)

  3. I think your choice is the perfect answer.