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Lawsuits - Pending

Czekala-Chatham v. Melancon

Case #:
Court Level: State Supreme Court
Date Filed: 11 September 2013
Date of Appeal: 23 December 2013


  • On 11 September 2013, Lauren Beth Czekala-Chatham asked the state to recognize her out-of-state marriage to a woman for the purpose of filing for divorce. Czekala-Chatham had married her wife, Dana Ann Melancon, in California in 2008. The couple lived together in Southaven, Mississippi but separated in 2010.
  • 3 December 2013, a Mississippi judge refused to grant the divorce, saying the marriage wasn't recognized under state law.
  • 15 September 2014, the Mississippi Supreme Court said it will hear this case, rather than assigning it to the Court of Appeals.
  • 16 September 2014, the Court approved Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant's motion to intervene. The governor is represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom and is opposing Lauren Czekala-Chatham's appeal.
  • 23 May 2014, the appellant, Czekala-Chatham, filed her brief.
  • 25 August 2015, the State of Mississippi filed its brief.
  • 22 November 2015, oral arguments were scheduled for 21 January 2015. Mississippi Supreme Court schedules arguments in same-sex divorce case - By Jack Elliott Jr., AP, via LGBTQNation
  • 21 January 2015, the Mississippi Supreme Court heard oral arguments. Here is video of today's argument. The justices enter around the 5:40 mark. For reference, here is the Mississippi Amendment, Article XIV, section 263A of the Mississippi Constitution: "Marriage may take place and may be valid under the laws of this state only between a man and a woman. A marriage in another state or foreign jurisdiction between persons of the same gender, regardless of when the marriage took place, may not be recognized in this state and is void and unenforceable under the laws of this state"
  •  24 February 2015, the Court ordered the parties to provide additional briefs on the question: "In light of Mississippi's public policy of not allowing or recognizing a marriage between two persons of the same gender, what rational basis supports the interpretation or application of a law or constitutional provision so as to prohibit Mississippi courts from granting a divorce to a Mississippi resident who was lawfully married in another state to a person of the same gender?" Justices Chandler, King and Kitchens object.

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