Same-sex divorce denied in Miss. court - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Same-sex divorce denied in Miss. court

The state of Mississippi does not recognize same-sex unions. The state of Mississippi does not recognize same-sex unions.
Czekala-Chatham says she is trying to protect her son's inheritance. Czekala-Chatham says she is trying to protect her son's inheritance.

(WMC-TV) - A DeSoto County judge refused a request from a woman seeking a divorce from her partner Monday.

Lauren Czekala-Chatham, of Hernando, married her partner legally in California. She asked for a divorce, saying she is trying to protect her son's inheritance.

The state of Mississippi does not recognize same-sex unions, therefore, a judge denied the request at a hearing Monday afternoon.

Czekala-Chatham has filed an appeal and says the fight, which is about more than a divorce, is far from over.

"A lot needs to be changed in this state and someone has to start somewhere," she said.

Lauren Czekala-Chatham thought she had a chance to get a divorce from her California marriage to former partner Dana Melancon.

"Yes I support it. I'm not going to argue that point," said Melancon. "We do need to get a divorce, we need to go on with our lives."

It is a case that some people thought could open doors for gay couples in the state.

"If it can open doors for other things down the road, that'd be great. There's a lot of discrimination, an example is today with the AG showing up because it is a same sex marriage," said Czekala-Chatham.

Representatives from the Mississippi Attorney General's Office argued that the state's constitution defines a legal marriage as being between a man and a woman and the state may not recognize same-sex unions from other states, like California.

"This court is bound by the statute and the constitution until it's ruled unconstitutional," said Judge Mitchell Lundy, DeSoto County.

Czekala-Chatham and her former partner have agreed to terms of a split, but remain in what her attorney Wesley Hisaw called a "legal limbo." He argued that their rights are not as well protected without an official divorce. The next step is an appeal to the state supreme court.

Dana Melancon said that since she and her former partner both agreed to the terms of the split, she likely will not be back in court as the battle continues, but she wished Czekala-Chatham well in her fight to make changes in Mississippi.

Copyright 2013 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.

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