Spanish surnames

A revolutionary change planned for Spain\’s birth registration laws will end the father\’s automatic right to hand his surname down to his children before their mother\’s.

Spaniards have two surnames, and under current law either can come first. Traditionally, however, it is the father\’s, and in cases of a dispute the father\’s name automatically takes priority.

Under a new law proposed by the country\’s socialist government, however, registrars will be told to put the surnames in alphabetical order – unless otherwise instructed by the parents.

It\’s not all that radical a change as this (slightly complex) discussion of the matter points out.

The choice is already there: this is simply changing what the default is.

Maybe someone\’s been reading \”Nudge\” or something.

What I do find amusing is this insistence that maternity must in some way be emphasised. There\’s a very good reason we\’ve not, over the centuries, for maternity is one of those things that we\’re really quite sure of. Paternity isn\’t certain to anything like the same degree which is why we do emphasise it through the naming conventions*.

* All right, I made that up. But it should be why we emphasise it mebbe. For example, the child of a mother named Miles might take simply that name, but the use of Balls, Burnham, Blunkett or Marr would tell us the paternity. And  we do already go further. It\’s not uncommon upon adoption, remarriage etc, for children to take their non-biological father\’s name. As a method of said father insisting to the society at large that they are indeed now his children, to be treated as such by all. It isn\’t just a patriarchal claiming of fertility, it\’s also an acknowledgement of responsibility.

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