Same-sex couple forced to testify against one another in KY - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Same-sex couple reacts to KY judges ruling in murder trial

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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 Monday.

The case is the first legal test in the state over making same-sex partners to testify against each other.  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.

Prosecutors have argued Geneva Case heard her spouse admit to killing a man two years ago and saw her clean blood out of the man's van and abandon it in Southern Indiana. They argued Case must testify about those facts because Kentucky does not recognize same-sex civil unions or marriages. 

Like Kentucky, West Virginia and Ohio do not recognize same-sex marriages within their states or from other states. Kentucky and Ohio have constitutional bans on it while West Virginia prohibits same-sex marriage by state code.

"Whether it's when a judge tells you no, you're not legally married for any reason or the court tells you the same, there are lots of moments where the freedom to marry matters," said Casey Willits, the executive director of Fairness West Virginia.

Michael Ragland and David Schumate have been together for 26 years. This past September, the couple traveled to Maryland to get married.

"It was a dream come true," said Schumate.

Although their marriage was legal in Maryland, in West Virginia it is not recognized. The couple said that living in a state that bans same-sex marriages can be tough since gay couples are not eligible for all of the same rights and benefits as straight couples.

The couple says they have surrounded themselves with those who are supportive of their relationship. They found a church that accepts gay couples and have become involved in supportive organizations.

"Of course we want to see everybody have what we have, you know," said Schumate. "We realize we're limited in West Virginia."