Jo Clary, 39, is accused of murdering George Murphey and stealing his van. She argues Murphey attempted to sexually assault her with a hammer before she turned the weapon on her attacker and bludgeoned him to death. In addition to murder and grand theft, Clary is accused of tampering with evidence at the crime scene. If convicted, she could face the death penalty.
According to The Columbus Dispatch, Geneva Case, 49, is the partner of the accused and has been summoned to a Louisville court to as a key witness for the prosecution. In almost all states, a witness is not required to testify against their spouse. However, only in 13 states are Clary and Case considered married and Kentucky is not one of those states.
In fact, in 2004, Kentucky passed a constitutional ban on gay marriage and defined the institution as between one man and one woman.
That same year, however, Clary and Case were joined in a civil union in Vermont.
The prosecution, however, argues that not only is Vermont law not recognized in Kentucky but even if it were, civil unions in Vermont do not even carry the same legal weight as same-sex marriages in Vermont.
This has forced the defense to take a broader and more ambitious approach by arguing that the state ban itself is unconstitutional.
The case has the potential to make it to federal court and set a precedent nationwide, especially if the verdict favors the defense.
Meanwhile, Clary is being held on $75,000 bail. The court date is set for August 30.
Sources: The Columbus Dispatch