Prosecutors in Kentucky are attempting
to force a woman to testify against her own wife, despite the fact
that Kentucky law exempts spouses from being compelled to testify
against each other.
Bobbie Joe Clary is charged with the
2011 murder and robbery of 64-year-old George Murphy. Clary is
accused of fatally wounding Murphy with a blunt object. Clary argued
that she was attempting to defend herself from Murphy's sexual
advances in his home when she hit him on the head with a hammer.
Prosecutors said that Clary admitted
her guilt to her wife, Geneva Case, and that Case saw Clary abandon
Murphy's van in Southern Indiana.
The women in 2004 entered a civil union
in Vermont. In 2009, the state legalized marriage for gay and
lesbian couples and began retroactively recognizing civil unions as
Case has refused to testify against her
wife, invoking spousal privilege under state law, the Courier-Journal
The prosecution said that Case cannot
invoke spousal privilege because Kentucky does not recognize the
marriages of gay couples.
“That ceremony is not a 'marriage'
that is valid and recognized under Kentucky law,” prosecutors said
in a court filing. “Geneva Case and the defendant cannot prove the
existence of a marriage under Kentucky law.”
Angela Elleman, an attorney
representing Clary, said that the women were being discriminated
against because of their sexual orientation.
A court hearing on whether Case can be
ordered to testify against her wife has been set for July 30.