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Names are our identity. They matter. Think about it: What does the Witness Protection Program do when they want you to disappear? They make you keep your first name and change your last name. When someone illegally assumes someone else's name, we say an identity's been stolen; when someone legally assumes someone else's name, we say…you're married.

Let's cut through the most platitudinous argument: "A family shares a name." Um, nuh-uh. Did your grandmother have the same last name as you? Was she still your Nana? Conversely, does having the same last name mean you'll always stay a family? Ask the Gibsons or the McCartneys or the McGreeveys or…

What's in a name? You tell me…
  • Would you want to lay down seven grand to buy a wedding dress from Vera Becker? (Vera Wang?)
  • How about listen to a song from Mariah Cannon, Jennifer Anthony or Barbra Brolin? ( Mariah Carey, Jennifer Lopez, Barbra Streisand)
  • Read a cover story on Angie Pitt? (Angelina Jolie)
  • Netflix an old film with Elizabeth Hilton Wilding Todd Fisher Burton Warner Fortensky? (Elizabeth Taylor, natch)
  • Or get your nightly news from Katie Monahan? (Katie Couric)
  • Gloria Bale needs her surname like a fish needs a Steinem. (Gloria Steinem)
  • And does the name Sonia Noonan suggest an "extraordinary journey"? (Sonia Sotomayor)
By the way, my wedding announcement was in The New York Times . When I submitted it, I wrote, "The groom is keeping his name." The Times did not publish that sentence. I guess they thought it was a typo.

Faith Salie is a writer, actor and humorist who contributes to O, The Oprah Magazine 's ethics column. She is a television commentator and a former public radio host.

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