osewalrus (osewalrus) wrote,

Same Sex Spouses in MD Free To Abuse Partners Just Like Heterosexual Spouses

This is the kind of case that always gives me a cringe, kinda like throwing out clear evidence of guilt to preserve the principle of Miranda or other fundamental rights.

Deborah and Shar'ron get married in DC. They reside in MD. Sometime later, Deborah is arrested for threatening to kill Shar'ron with a knife during a "domestic situation." By trial, however, Deborah and Shar'ron have totally reconciled and Shar'ron now completely regrets having overreacted and called the police for such a trvial thing as getting threatened by her spouse with a knife. Because, as Shar'ron now realizes, when someone loves you, they totally don't mean it when they get a little crazy and possessive sometimes and slap you around and threaten your life.

Unfortunately for Deborah, the MD district attorney's office is, like, totally evil and think that Deborah might get mad and threaten Shar'ron again and actually hurt her next time -- even though Deborah has it totally under control now and she and Sar'ron really love each other and this time Deborah has learned her lesson and will never, ever hurt Shar'ron. Really. But even though Shar'ron is now totally cool and totally agrees that the DA should drop the case, the DA's office still insisted on going to trial for assault.

Fortunately for Deborah and Shar'ron, Maryland still maintains the "spousal privilege," even in cases of domestic assault. Under the "spousal privilege," a spouse cannot be compelled to testify in a criminal trial against another spouse. So Shar'ron refuses to testify. Because if she testified, her truthful testimony would apparently show that yes, Deborah threatened her life with a knife and, at the time, she really meant it. And the judge would so totally ignore that Deborah is now sooooo sorry and the two of them are getting along great now and love each other so much. But if Shar'ron does not testify, there is no evidence against Deborah and everything will be FINE.

The mean DA, who so doesn't understand about love, argued that because Maryland does not have same sex marriage, that the spousal immunity privilege does not apply. The court ruled, however, that because Maryland recognizes same sex marriages legally entered into in other jurisdictions and extends them full faith and credit, same sex marriage spouses may claim spousal immunity. So Deborah was acquited, and I am sure nothing bad will ever happen between her and Shar'ron ever again.

The thing is, I totally agree with the ACLU and Lambda Legal here that, as a matter of law, Maryland extends full faith and credit and that if Shar'ron could exercise spousal privilege if she were married to a man named Dave, she can exercise the same privilege when she is married to a woman named Deborah. I think MD ought to do what some states have done, and eliminate spousal privilege in cases of domestic assault. Still, it is one of those times when I could wish that the right result did not make me feel so queasy.

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