Lauren Czekala-Chatham (second from left) pictured with her partner, Dawn Miller, and two sons Aaron Chatham (far left) and Alec Chatham (far right) at DisneyWorld in Orlando in 2013. Photo courtesy Lauren Czekala-Chatham
The Mississippi Supreme Court has ruled Lauren Czekala-Chatham's divorce legal in concurrence with the ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, the U.S. Supreme Court case that legalized same-sex marriage in June. Czekala-Chatham filed for divorce from her estranged wife in 2013 in Mississippi, and has been waiting for an order from the Mississippi Supreme Court since July when both the state and Czekala-Chatham's lawyer filed entry motions for judgment in the case following the Obergefell decision.
After a four-month silence, the Mississippi Supreme Court has finally ruled, but not without pontificating. Five of the Mississippi Supreme Court justices signed the order in support of granting Czekala-Chatham a divorce. Chief Justice William Waller and Justices Michael Randolph, Ann Lamar, Randy Pierce and David Chandler ordered a short entry of judgment in Czekala-Chatham's favor, reversing the previous DeSoto County Court ruling that said Czekala-Chatham could not get a divorce. Justice Pierce wrote a separate statement in support of the court's order.
Four justices objected to the order, however. Justices Jess Dickinson, Josiah Coleman and Leslie King, however, in three separate written statements, objected to the order, and Justice James Kitchens joined Justice King's statement. The 36-page order and statements are available here.
Czekala-Chatham released the following statement after the court's ruling:
"I'm happy this battle has been won. But the war on discrimination is still on going. I continue to struggle with the negative consequences that being in the public's eye has caused. I will soon be divorce (sic) from my former spouse. And realize there are still road blocks when testing discrimination laws. So much still needs to be addressed. This fight has damaged my life in ways I can't recovered (sic) from. Searching for employment for 18 months has put a mental and a financial strain on me. Any potential employer can google my name and I'm dropped as a potential candidate. You can win the battle but the war on discrimination is very much real."
Read JFP's coverage of Mississippi LGBT issues here.