(Hernando, MS) Ask Lauren Chatham if she’s a crusader, and you’ll get a quick answer, ”No, no. Noooo.”
But there she sat in a DeSoto Chancery courtroom asking for a same-sex divorce in a state that doesn’t even recognize gay marriage.
Still, insists she’s not a crusader.
“No, not really. I had to build up the courage to come in here and ask for the divorce. I felt it was necessary.”
It’s an issue that’s coming up more and more around the country since a dozen or so states legalized same-sex marriage.
People move to other states, want to break up, and find it almost impossible to do so.
After hearing arguments from Chatham’s attorney and a representative of the Mississippi Attorney General, Chancellor Mitch Lundy ruled the state gave him no jurisdiction in granting a divorce.
This isn’t the first time a gay rights case has come up in DeSoto Chancery Court.
Years ago, a Chancellor here ruled on both a property case and a custody case.
Both were denied based on the same reasoning used by Chancellor Lundy, they didn’t meet the standards of Mississippi law or the state constitution.
Chatham’s soon-to-be-ex didn’t exactly want to be pulled into this.
She’d have preferred going back to where the couple married to get un-hitched.
”I do want the divorce. I think it would be easier in California to do this, but I also understand the reason why she’s wanting to fight for it here and I wish her the best with it,” said Dana Melancon
Now, this self-described “unlikely crusader” says she’ll push on to get her Mississippi divorce to get the state to pay attention to the issue of gay marriage.
”There’s a lot of discrimination and today with the Attorney General showing up because it is a same-sex marriage. A lot needs to be changed in this state and someone has to start somewhere,” said Chatham.
She says she’s appealing Chancellor Lundy’s decision to the next level.
Currently, 16 states recognize same-sex marriage.
Politico reports couples in non-recognition states would have to move back to the state where they were married and establish residency in order to get divorced – an option that can be unworkable in many cases.