The Civil Code requires a husband and wife to both adopt the surname of either the husband or the wife at the time of marriage. The plaintiffs in this case were five women who had either chosen to continue using their pre-marriage surnames, or who had had their notifications of marriage rejected for failing to choose a surname. The plaintiffs sued the State pursuant to the State Redress Act, arguing that the provision violated the Constitution and therefore the failure to take legislative measures to amend or abolish the provision was illegal. The District Court and the High Court dismissed the plaintiffs’ claims, and the Supreme Court affirmed. The Supreme Court found that 1) there is no constitutional right to freedom from being forced to change one’s surname upon marriage, 2) the provision does not formally create inequality between the sexes and the fact that the overwhelming majority of married couples choose the husband’s surname is not a direct consequence of the substance of the provision, and 3) the provision does not lack reasonableness nor restrict the individual dignity or the essential equality of the sexes. However, the Supreme Court also noted that while the current provision may not be unconstitutional, it does not mean that allowing married couples to choose separate surnames would be constitutionally unreasonable.
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