When two people get married, the tricky question often arises: What do we want to be called after the wedding? Today there are three options: the man takes over the name of the woman, the woman in the future bears the name of the man – or everyone keeps his single name. There is only one option left: the combined name. Although many couples want just that.
But the parliament abolished the double name in 2013. Family names like that of SP politician Susanne Leutenegger Oberholzer – a central figure in the fight for the new naming law – have not been allowed since then.
The new law had a noble goal: the parliamentarians wanted to create equality. In future, the man’s name should no longer automatically become the common name. Instead, the couples should be free to choose their family name.
Women are left behind
As we can see today, equality really went wrong. Many couples still want a uniform name – and are now forced to choose one or the other surname. With the result that in 97 percent of the cases the woman gives up her name. This is shown by figures from the Federal Statistical Office for 2019.
“The new law is aimed at people’s needs,” says Fleur Weibel (37). The sociologist and gender researcher at the University of Basel has investigated why couples choose which family name. The result: social norms continue to play a major role, regardless of legal equality. Men often find it difficult to give up their names.
Add to this: “Anyone who marries wants to create a sense of togetherness.” If one of the two had to give up his name for this, however, that would not only be in contradiction to equal rights, but also to the need to – as Weibel put it – “to maintain” the “identity-creating maiden name”.
Now the name issue will be taken up again by a move by the former SVP National Councilor Luzi Stamm (68), which the National Council’s legal commission will deal with next week.
In it, Stamm demands that double names be allowed again. If Marlene Müller and Stefan Schmid get married, they should be able to be called Marlene Müller and Stefan Schmid Müller. Or Marlene Müller Schmid and Stefan Schmid.
Support for this comes not only from the bourgeoisie, but also from the left.
“The idea is that women are more likely to keep their names if double names are possible,” argues SP National Councilor Min Li Marti (46). Men could also bear their wives’ names in the future.
Furthermore, the possibility should be created that in the future both spouses can have double names: “In Spain, for example, this has always been the norm.”
Sociologist Weibel also advocates introducing a double name for both spouses in the interests of equality. “This also corresponds to a wish of many same-sex couples.”