An American AIDS activist was denied a new passport by the US State Department on the grounds that his hyphenated surname with his married gay partner is illegal.

The Sun Chronicle reports that Jason Hair-Wynn, who married his partner in 2005 in Massachusetts – which is currently the only American state to have legalised same-sex marriage – is now having to face reapplying for a new passport.

Hair-Wynn received a letter from the State Department which outlined that the federal Defence of Marriage Act (DOMA) prohibited the legal recognition of his new name.

As it stands, the American government only recognises heterosexual marriages.

Hair-Wynn had planned to travel to Ghana as part of his AIDS education and volunteer work in the summer but wanted to update his passport with his married name.

He had already changed his name successfully on his driver’s licence and his social security documents, but had not anticipated obstacles with the US State Department.

Hair-Wynn will now change his name back and reapply for his passport.