Domestic partners in California may soon find it easier to change their last names, or make up a new family name.

On Monday the state Assembly passed a measure that would ease the process of name-changing for same-sex couples.

However, the measure must first be adopted by the state Senate, and also signed by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, before it is made legal.

As the law stands now, domestic partners – there is no same-sex marriage in California – are allowed to request a new last name.

But it is difficult to do so, and involves a judge, a long period of waiting time, and a lot of money.

Maya Scott-Chung, for example, told the San Jose Mercury News that it was almost eight months, and much complication, before she was able to get a new surname for herself and her partner, MeiBeck Lee Scott-Chung.

“Having to go through those hoops, it’s like, oh my God, it’s so much work and takes so much time,” she told the Mercury News.

“It just shows me, over and over, every day, we just have to struggle to have our relationships.”

This proposed act, called the Name Equality Act of 2007, would treat same-sex couples like straight couples, as far as name-changing is concerned.

“County-issued marriage licence applications and state-produced domestic partnership certificates would be amended to allow couples or individuals to jot down any last name they wish to adopt,” the Mercury News.

The change to marriage applications is for husbands who want to take their wives’ last names.

Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, a Democrat from San Francisco ,who proposed the act, said that it was past time for such a law to be passed.

“It is about equality and flexibility, and getting with the times,” she told the Mercury News.

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