Miss. Judge Denies Divorce For Same Sex Couple - KMSP-TV

Miss. Judge Denies Divorce For Same Sex Couple

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DeSoto County Judge Mitchell Lundy has denied same-sex divorce on grounds that the state would have to recognize the marriage. The ruling will be appealed to the The Supreme Court.

Mississippi's first same-sex divorce case was presented before a DeSoto County Chancery Court judge in Hernando, Mississippi on October 1st.

The first-ever same-sex divorce complaint to be filed in the Magnolia State involves a lesbian couple that were legally married in San Francisco, California.

Lauren Czekala-Chatham and Dana Melancon were married in San Francisco in 2008. Two years later the two separated. Czekala-Chatham now lives in Mississippi and recently filed for divorce in DeSoto County.

"I want to get divorced in Mississippi and I am going to pursue the divorce in Mississippi," she said.

The case is complicated. Czekala-Chatham's attorney Wesley Hisaw explained that the constitutionality of the case would be argued.

Attorney Chad Reeves, who represents Melancon, said that he will push for the case to be dismissed on the grounds that Mississippi doesn't recognize same sex marriages if Czekala-Chatham doesn't agree to Melancan's terms.

"If we can get it resolved my client is open to having DesSto County Chancery Court grant the divorce," Reeves said. "But that is only if we can resolve all the issues. Outside of that, she wishes to go to California."

Reeves argues that it would be cheaper and quicker for both women to go to California to get divorced.

"Instead of wasting the time and money and the resources fighting whether or not we could be divorced, we go to California and obtain the divorce in a more expedited manner,' Reeves said.

Hisaw says that only the divorce could be taken care of in California but not the property issues. Czekala-Chatham agrees.

"I mean I want it all done here," Czekala-Chatham said. "I live here, I pay taxes here. I don't want to be treated like a second class citizen. I should be able to have the same rights to walk in and get a divorce."

If the divorce is not granted by the county chancery court and the attorney general finds it unconstitutional to do so, the case would likely be appealed.

"I mean we could always appeal it to the next level," Czekala-Chatham said. And it looks like from today's ruling that it will be appealed.

A similar case has just commenced in Kentucky, where two women married in Massachusetts are seeking a divorce.

At least one same-sex couple has been able to get a divorce in a state that doesn't officially recognize same-sex unions. In 2011, the Wyoming Supreme Court ruled that two women married in Canada could get a divorce in the state, reversing a ruling by a district judge.

The Associated Press Contributed To This Report

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