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Maryland Judge Rules Same-Sex Spouse Can Assert Spousal Privilege

In our June 28, 2011 blog we discussed how Courts in Maryland seem to be divided on whether same sex couples legally married in other states should be granted a divorce in Maryland. To confuse matters even more, as reported by the Maryland Daily Record on June 24, 2011, a criminal Judge has ruled that same sex couples are permitted to assert their spousal privilege in criminal matters. So while some family law Judges may not recognize same sex couples as spouses, it appears that some criminal Judges are. In the Washington County case, the lesbian partners were married in Washington D.C. Recently, one has threatened the other with violence, and therefore was charged with assault. However, in criminal matters spouses can invoke their right not to testify against their spouse. In this case, the victim of the alleged threat has asked to assert her privilege not to testify against her partner. The Judge has recognized the partners as spouses and allowed her to do so. The Judge specifically ruled that “Maryland generally recognizes a marriage as valid as long as it was valid in the jurisdiction in which it took place.”

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