Monday, October 21, 2013

Spousal Privilege in Same Sex Couples

Bobbie Jo Clary entered into a civil union in Vermont with her domestic partner Geneva Case in 2004. Bobbie Jo is now a defendant in a murder case in Kentucky. Judge Susan Schultz Gibson is not allowing Geneva Case to assert spousal privilege in order to refuse to testify against Bobbie Jo. Prosecutors claim that Clary admitted to Case that she killed a man and that Case saw Clary cleaning blood from his van a couple of years ago.

While same sex marriages are recognized in Vermont, they are not in Kentucky. Despite that, Judge Gibson indicates that the partners needed to take further action to convert their civil union into a marriage which they did not do. So, technically, they aren’t married under Vermont law either. Judge Gibson does not have to consider the constitutionality of the marital privilege for same sex couples because they are not technically married in any state.  Still, this raises an interesting issue of what Kentucky would have done if these parties had converted their union into a marriage.

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