Until a week ago, there was only one marriage equality lawsuit in Mississippi, and it was far from an ideal case.
Czekala-Chatham v. Melancon is a divorce case in which two women, married in California in 2008, attempted to file for divorce in Mississippi. This is problematic, since Mississippi doesn't recognize out-of-state licenses for gay and lesbian couples for any purpose, let alone divorce. Further complicating the case, even if the divorce was granted by California, the dissolution might not be recognized by Mississippi, leaving the couple in a confusing semi-married state.
As a result, a state judge ruled last year that the state could not grant the couple a divorce. The litigation has stagnated there ever since, leaving the state's only marriage case on a shaky foundation.
But that could change now that Roberta Kaplan, leading a team of attorneys, has filed a new lawsuit. There are two plaintiff couples seeking recognition from the state: one is already married in Maine, and the other wants to marry in Mississippi.
Kaplan brings hefty authority to the new case. She led the team that brought down the Defense of Marriage Act with the Windsor case, and it's a big deal that this is her latest lawsuit. The case is getting lightning-fast consideration by a federal judge, with a hearing scheduled for November 12. Two other states in the same circuit —Texas and Louisiana — already have marriage litigation before appellate judges, so the speedy schedule for Mississippi's case could allow it to catch up to them.
Meanwhile, only a handful of states are continuing to defend their marriage bans, including Idaho, South Carolina, Kansas, and Montana. But with strong litigation charging through the federal court system, the days of defending those bans could soon be over.
Get up to speed on the latest developments in marriage equality news below: