Baby 'Messiah' can keep name, Tennessee judge rules

The name change order for baby "Messiah" has been overturned.
By CAROLINE LEE,  |  Sept. 19, 2013 at 2:45 PM
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A Tennessee woman will be allowed to name her son "Messiah" after all, a judge ruled Wednesday.

The ruling overturns an order from another judge who said the boy's name should be changed to Martin, because "'Messiah' is a title that is held only by Jesus Christ."

His mother, Jaleesa Martin, said she was shocked when child support magistrate Lu Ann Ballew last month ordered her to change the name of her 8-month-old son during a paternity hearing.

The parents were disputing the baby's last name, with Martin hoping to keep the name she had given him -- Messiah Deshawn Martin. Father Jawaan McCullough sought to have the baby take on his last name instead.

At an appeal hearing Wednesday, chancellor Telford E. Forgety overturned Ballew's decision, finding that she acted unconstitutionally. It took Forgety 30 minutes to overturn the ruling.

Forgety said there is no basis in law for changing a child's name when both parents are in agreement with it. She never stopped calling the baby Messiah, a name she said she picked because of how it sounded with her other children's names, Micah and Mason.

"Everybody's just happy," Martin said after the ruling. "I'm glad it's over with, and I know they are too."

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