A woman has filed for a divorce from her estranged wife in
Lauren Beth Czekala-Chatham and Dana Ann Melancon married in
California in 2008 but lived together in Mississippi until they split
Now Czekala-Chatham is asking the conservative state to recognize
her marriage so that she can get divorced.
“My client is not looking to start gay marriage in Mississippi,”
Czekala-Chatham's lawyer J. Wesley Hisaw told
the AP. “She wants the marriage from another state to be
recognized so she can get a divorce and protect herself.”
Czekala-Chatham said that she was pursuing a divorce over concerns
that Melancon could someday be awarded her estate over her children
from a prior relationship. In her divorce petition, filed September
11, she cites adultery and desertion as grounds for divorce and asks
for alimony plus the couple's house in Walls, Mississippi.
“This needs to be settled because if it's not and something
happened to me, the state wouldn't know what to do with things like
wills because they've never been challenged on it,” Czekala-Chatham
“There's no right to terminate a gay marriage in Mississippi any
more than there is a right to consummate one,” Matt Steffey, a
constitutional law professor at Mississippi College, told the AP.
“This is a test case. At worst, it's simply an exercise in
futility. That said, all test cases look like an exercise in
futility until they succeed.”
Czekala-Chatham said she was willing to take her case all the way
to the Mississippi Supreme Court.