Italy rules kids should have both their parents' names.
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Italian Court Rules Only Using Dad's Last Name On Birth Certificate Is "Discriminatory"

The ruling could very well open up a dialogue about patriarchal traditions.

After centuries of babies being automatically given their father’s surname, the highest court in Italy has ruled that babies should instead be given both their parents’ surnames at birth. In fact, Italy’s Constitutional Court found that automatically inheriting a father’s surname at birth was unconstitutional.

Italy’s Constitutional Court deemed the old practice of automatically using the father’s surname on a child’s birth certificate “discriminatory and harmful” to that child’s identity, according to Reuters. “In the wake of the principle of equality and in the interest of the child, both parents must be able to share the choice on his surname, which constitutes fundamental element of personal identity,” a statement from the court issued on Wednesday said.

Prior to this ruling, children could not be given their mother’s last name unless there were extenuating circumstances, according to The New York Times, as when the father was not a part of the baby’s life. Now parents will be able to choose; they can still choose one name if they like, but it will not automatically be the father’s surname.

The ruling has not yet passed as it needs to be approved by Parliament, but Family Minister Elena Bonetti noted in a Facebook post that the government supported the decision. “The Consultation has clearly stated that it is discriminatory to give a male aprioristic prevalence over the female,” Bonetti wrote on Facebook. “Today we turn the picture over: we recognize equal dignity and equal responsibility, even parental, to both parents. A clear and solid indication is given, which reaffirms that the choice of our Constitution is the choice of a democracy that can be said accomplished only in the face of a full reach of gender equality.”

Parents in the United States still tend to favor the father’s surname for their baby. While there is no law that prevents mothers giving their name to babies in this country as there was in Italy, giving babies their father’s surname is a tradition that doesn’t appear to be going away any time soon.

Perhaps this new ruling in Italy will open up a dialogue about choice, about patriarchal traditions, and about what every person’s name really means to them. And what giving their own name to their child might mean for their family.