Kentucky judge orders woman to testify against same-sex spouse in murder trial

[JURIST] A judge for Kentucky's Jefferson County Circuit Court ruled [order, PDF] Monday that the same-sex spouse of a woman charged with murder must testify against her at the trial because same-sex partners are not protected by the husband-wife privilege under Kentucky's state law. Geneva Case, who will be compelled to testify, was married to the defendant, Bobbie Jo Clary, in Vermont. Case asked that the Kentucky court recognize the marriage that took place in Vermont, and, accordingly, apply spousal privilege. The judge denied Case's motion, citing the Kentucky statute [text, PDF] which says that a marriage between members of the same sex is null and void. Prosecutors claim that Case heard Clary admit the killing [AP report], and that she must testify to it. Clary maintains that she was acting in self-defense against a man who raped her. This is the first case addressing this issue in Kentucky.

Earlier this month the Kentucky Equality Federation [advocacy website] filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] to overturn Kentucky's amendment [text] banning same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder]. The debate over same-sex marriage is one of the most polarizing issues currently facing the American legal community. Also this month an Ohio judge issued an order allowing a Cincinnati man to be listed as "spouse" [JURIST report] on the death certificate of his late husband. In August the US Treasury Department announced that the Treasury, along with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) [official websites] will now recognize the marriages of all same-sex couples for federal tax purposes [JURIST report]. Also in August a judge for the Second Judicial District Court of New Mexico [official website] ordered [JURIST report] district court clerks to begin granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The week before, the Texas Supreme Court [official website] announced that it will consider whether the state has jurisdiction [JURIST report] to grant divorces to two same-sex couples who were legally married in Massachusetts. In July the ACLU filed a federal lawsuit [JURIST report] in Pennsylvania on behalf of 21 residents who wish to marry their same-sex partner or who are seeking recognition by the state of their out-of-state same-sex marriage.

 

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