Upper Left Coast

Thoughts on politics, faith, sports and other random topics from a red state sympathizer in indigo-blue Portland, Oregon.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

World ends, women hit hardest

The new driver's license rules implemented by the Oregon legislature require proof of citizenship, including a Social Security number and documentation of name changes. The latter item, for obvious reasons, impacts women more than men as they typically change their name when they marry.

In today's Oregonian, columnist Andy Parker bemoans the burden placed on women by these rules, using the example of a woman named Mary Tabrum. The thrice-married Tabrum just wanted to renew her driver's license, but in order to do so, she had to get a birth certificate from one state; a marriage certificate from another; and marriage, divorce and death certificates from a third.

The column emphasizes the disparity in fairness to women -- which is true -- but almost completely ignores another fundamental problem. Parker wrote (with my emphasis):

First, let's make it clear that Tabrum supports Oregon's push for proof of identity. In her opinion, illegal immigrants have placed costly burdens on legal residents.

Still, she doesn't think it's fair to place such a financial burden on women. Nor does she understand why Oregon charges so much more for certified copies of documents than other localities she dealt with.

Something should be done, she says, to make the cost to men and women more equitable.

The issue is not just the disparity in documentation requirements, but the fact that she had to pay one-hundred eighty-two dollars for that documentation. Just from the state of Oregon, she had to obtain her first husband's death certificate, and marriage and divorce certificates for her other marriages.

For those keeping track at home, that's five certificates at $32 apiece that she needed from the state of Oregon so she could then pay $39 to renew her Oregon driver's license. It's also roughly three times the amount she paid to other states ($12 for a copy of her Virginia birth certificate, and $10 for her first marriage certificate in the District of Columbia).

God forbid the DMV might call the Oregon State Archives (they're less than two miles apart) to take care of that for Ms. Tabrum. But that would be too much like customer service, and we can't have that.

So the real issue is not the additional cost for many women. The real issue is the fact that the state of Oregon charges an obscene amount of money to provide something that belongs to us.

(Apologies to James Taranto for the headline.)


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