The same-sex partner of a woman charged with murder must testify against her and isn’t protected by the husband-wife privilege under state law, a Jefferson County judge ruled this week.
The case is the first legal test in the state over forcing same-sex partners to testify against each other.
Circuit Judge Susan Schultz Gibson ruled that it’s “abundantly clear” that Kentucky doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages within the state or from other states, WDRB-TV reported.
Bobbie Jo Clary and Geneva Case entered into a civil union in Vermont several years ago. Clary is now charged in the Oct. 29, 2011, murder and robbery of George Murphy, 64.
The prosecution says Clary admitted her guilt to Case, who also allegedly saw Clary clean blood out of Murphy’s van and abandon it in southern Indiana.
Clary has claimed self-defense, saying Murphy was raping her and she fought back by hitting him in the head with a hammer.
Case told the prosecution she wouldn’t testify, invoking the husband-wife privilege under state law, in which a spouse can refuse to testify against a husband or wife.
Case’s lawyer, Bryan Gatewood, said he was disappointed in the ruling. He said Clary and Case were “for all intents and purposes” married and expect to be treated as a married couple. He said he would talk to Case about whether to appeal.
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Stacy Grieve didn’t return a phone call from the station, and Angela Elleman, an attorney for Clary, declined to comment.
Attorneys for Clary and Case have argued they are legally married and denying them the same marital rights others have is a constitutional violation. They say Clary and Case are being discriminated against because of their gender and sexual orientation.
Gibson said she didn’t have to decide the constitutionality of the issue because Case and Clary aren’t considered married in Kentucky or Vermont.
The trial is scheduled for February.