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Murder Trial May Force Kentucky To Overturn Same-Sex Marriage Ban: VIDEO

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Kentucky is in a bit of a quandary over same-sex marriage thanks to a high-profile murder case involving a lesbian (the accused in the case) and her spouse. As Joe.My.God points out, the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage is coming under fire because of spousal privilege:

A legal debate over whether one member of a same-sex couple has spousal privilege that would shield her from testifying against her partner is at the heart of a capital murder case in politically conservative Kentucky. Geneva Case, 49, does not want to testify in a Louisville court against her partner, Bobbie Jo Clary, 37, who is accused of beating George Murphy, 64, to death with a hammer in 2011 and then stealing his van. Prosecutors say Case must testify because of her value as a witness, since she heard Clary admit to the slaying and also saw blood on the interior of the victim's van after the killing. Clary says Murphy used a hammer to sexually assault her, and she defended herself by hitting him over the head.

Case and Clary were joined in a civil union in Vermont in 2004. And though the immediate concern for the trial is whether Case will be forced to testify against her partner, the implications of the court's ruling on spousal privilege could have broad-ranging implications, potentially leading to an overturn of the state's ban on same-sex marriage:

Both Clary's attorney, Angela Elleman, and Case's attorney, Bryan Gatewood, said the Kentucky marriage amendment is unconstitutional and the pair should be treated like any other married couple. The attorneys also say they are cautiously optimistic that this case will lead to the amendment being held as unconstitutional, setting a precedent for change nationwide. In light of recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings on gay marriage, "the climate is right" for the Kentucky amendment to be thrown out, Elleman said. "I believe the handwriting is already on the wall," Gatewood said. He believes the Kentucky attorney general's office, which says it is reviewing the case, will find that the state law is unconstitutional under the same reasoning.

Late last month a couple came forth offering the first post-United States-v.-Windsor challenge to Kentucky's ban on same-sex marriage. It is unclear if this murder case could potentially have implications for that challenge to the state's ban.

Watch a news report on the trial from WLKY TV AFTER THE JUMP...

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Comments

  1. if the victim was trying to rape her & she defended herself & ended up killing him with the object he was trying to rape her with, why is she being charged with murder, isn't it self-defense?

    Posted by: kirk | Aug 15, 2013 8:29:48 AM


  2. On its own, I find it extremely unlikely that Kentucky's attorney general will find its gay marriage ban unconstitutional. But to think he would do that in order to allow a lesbian to protect her murderous partner and potentially let the murderer go free is beyond crazy.

    Posted by: Brian1 | Aug 15, 2013 8:33:02 AM


  3. maybe she should try a straight panic defense...

    Posted by: Cray Cray | Aug 15, 2013 8:37:51 AM


  4. If her partner is forced to testify against her, then she should commit perjury.

    If the law treats them as 2nd class citizens for their sexual orientation then they are under no obligation to obey the law banning perjury.

    Posted by: MaryM | Aug 15, 2013 8:46:00 AM


  5. @ MaryM

    maybe they just ain't liars.

    Posted by: verity | Aug 15, 2013 8:52:03 AM


  6. Sounds like a Raylan Givens story.

    Posted by: AdamK | Aug 15, 2013 9:28:11 AM


  7. Brian1, you've already carefully studied all the court evidence and have rendered your judgment that it was murder and not self-defense? Hope I'll never have you on my jury.

    If the spouse is compelled to testify, she can plead the 5th.

    It's Kentucky, the attorney general is not going to fulfill some gay pipe dream there. It's going to take a federal statute.

    Posted by: johnny | Aug 15, 2013 9:30:47 AM


  8. @Johnny -- that's not how the 5th works. You can only use it to prevent yourself from being implicated. You can't use it to prevent implicating someone else. Spousal privilege is a separate thing -- not something that has to do with the Constitution. But whether gay people can be banned from being considered spouses is. This is pretty exciting. Could be a way to get rid of all those marriage bans if this case works its way up high enough...

    Posted by: Jesse | Aug 15, 2013 9:48:53 AM


  9. @Johnny,

    No, I have no idea if she's guilty, so I should have said alleged. But her guilt or innocence isn't relevant to my post. My only point was that the attorney general isn't going to overturn the gay marriage ban, and certainly won't do it to save an accused lesbian murderer, alleged or not.

    Posted by: Brian1 | Aug 15, 2013 9:54:22 AM


  10. This is the problem when you let the states decide on issues such as this. Legal chaos is the result.

    Posted by: Jack M | Aug 15, 2013 10:08:46 AM


  11. But her guilt or innocence isn't relevant to my post. - Brian1

    really!? so why even bother calling her a murderer in the first place but I do agree the attorney general isn't going to overturn the gay marriage ban to save an accused lesbian murderer but from what it looks like she seems to be more of a rape victim that fought back, are women aloud to fight back in Kentucky?

    Posted by: stayhome&bakemeapie | Aug 15, 2013 10:08:53 AM


  12. @ Brian1

    if you were going to be raped with a hammer handle wouldn't you fight back your attacker & if you'd end up killing them in the process would you call yourself a murderer or a survivor?

    Posted by: dystopia | Aug 15, 2013 10:18:56 AM


  13. @Dystopia

    Can you read??? I just said I have no idea if she's a murderer or not, and it's not remotely the point of this article. The post is entirely about the potential impact of this case on Kentucky's gay marriage ban. All I'm saying is the post's argument, that somehow this case will tempt the attorney general to overturn the gay marriage ban, makes no sense. If anything it will make him more determined to enforce it. Not because of the particulars of the case, but because it would be political suicide to support an overturn of the ban in any event, and certainly if he says it's to help this lesbian accused of murder to get acquitted his career is toast.

    Posted by: Brian1 | Aug 15, 2013 10:27:28 AM


  14. I don't understand why a woman is on trial for killing a man trying to rape her.

    Posted by: Houndentenor | Aug 15, 2013 11:00:07 AM


  15. @HOUNDENTENOR - because it's Kentucky and they know for a fact that ALL women want it if a man wants to give it to them.

    Especially lesbians that haven't had any man-love in a while.

    Posted by: Cal | Aug 15, 2013 11:19:31 AM


  16. Not the best case I would choose as an attempt to overturn Kentucky's ban on same-sex marriage, but sometimes you just need to make lemons into lemonade.

    Posted by: Phoenix Justice | Aug 15, 2013 11:25:38 AM


  17. Um wow I don't know all the details of this case but I'm inclined to believe her self defense story. I don't see why a well off married woman would murder a man to steal his sh*tty van.

    Posted by: JMC | Aug 15, 2013 12:00:43 PM


  18. I'll have to look into this story further, this is the first time I've heard of it. On the surface I'd imagine the problem with the self-defense claim is that the rape wasn't reported at the time so there is no evidence to support it other than the defendant's word.

    Posted by: Caliban | Aug 15, 2013 12:39:07 PM


  19. Why is there a spousal exception at all? Let's get rid of it altogether.

    Posted by: Randy | Aug 15, 2013 2:00:23 PM


  20. Why not go to the police if she was raped? Why no physical evidence of rape? And why did she take the van? She's clearly guilty and I hope she gets the chair.

    Posted by: Lee | Aug 15, 2013 2:42:23 PM


  21. But couldn't Geneva plead the 5th if she was worried that her testimony would lead to her being charged with aiding and abetting?

    Posted by: Bob Hope | Aug 15, 2013 4:47:28 PM


  22. .....funny how easily Christianity can screw stuff up!!!!

    Posted by: wayne | Aug 15, 2013 10:43:01 PM


  23. Bobbie Jo Clary: "He tried to rape me! That's why I killed him!"

    George Zimmerman: "He was trying to kill me! That's why I shot him!"

    Dead men tell no tales. The lesson here, kiddies, is that you've got to kill your victim.

    Posted by: Chris | Aug 16, 2013 2:00:56 AM


  24. CHRIS: So George Zimmerman was under some kind of "moral obligation" to let Trayvon Martin crack his skull open and scatter his brains over the pavement. I see. So we should all lie down like good little victims and let our attacker just beat us to death? GROW UP! GET YOU HEAD OUT OF YOUR @$$!

    Posted by: Bill Michael | Aug 16, 2013 5:26:06 AM


  25. @Lee - So you've just counselled the state to commit murder. I believe there are laws against counselling murder...

    Posted by: Tim | Aug 16, 2013 9:31:32 AM


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