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

A University of Pittsburgh Law School Jurist report, yesterday,  reported a Kentucky Jefferson County Circuit Court judge’s ruling that the same-sex spouse of a woman charged with murder must testify against her spouse at trial because same-sex partners are not protected by the husband-wife privilege under Kentucky's state law.

Geneva Case, Jurist reported, was married to defendant, Bobbie Jo Clary in Vermont, Case asking the Kentucky court recognize the marriage that took place, and, accordingly, apply spousal privilege to her not having to testify. Circuit Court Judge Susan Schultz Gibson denied the motion, citing the Kentucky statute which says that a marriage between members of the same sex is null and void.

Speaking of Vermont, we note a Law.com article almost a decade ago to the day, mentioning that “ when the courts in Vermont began recognizing the legality of same-sex civil unions in 2000  it was only a matter of time before cases came along to test whether sister states would give full faith and credit to those decisions, with one of the earliest cases to raise the issue being a same-sex parental rights challenge that  provoked a jurisdictional debate between Virginia and Vermont.” There’ve been others, each with another new little twist.

In this instance, prosecutors are claiming Case heard Clary admit the killing, the Huntington Post/AP reported, and has to testify; Clary is maintaining  she was acting in self-defense against a man who raped her -- a case of first impression in Kentucky.

  The Jurist article  notes as well the Kentucky Equality Federation filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] earlier this month to overturn Kentucky's amendment banning same-sex marriage [See JURIST's extensive "same-sex" backgrounder]; Ohio Southern District Court Judge Timothy S. Black’s issuing an order back in July allowing a Cincinnati man to be listed as "spouse" [JURIST report] on the death certificate of his late husband; and the US Treasury Department announcing in August  that the Treasury, along with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will now recognize the marriages of all same-sex couples for federal tax purposes [JURIST report].