CRIME

Md. woman not guilty after judge grants spousal privilege to same-sex couple

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Now that gay marriage is legal in D.C., today a Maryland judge was faced with an interesting decision.

Deborah and Shar'ron Snowden walked out of court today free to resume their life together, and to not answer questions.

Deborah had been charged with assault for threatening to kill Shar'ron with a knife.

But when called to testify Shar'ron declined, invoking spousal privilege and citing the couple's marriage in D.C.

Citing concerns for Shar'ron's safety, Deputy State's Attorney Joe Michael asked a judge to compel her testimony on the grounds that same-sex marriage is illegal in Maryland.

"The statute is very clear," Michael said. "There was a threat to kill in this matter, there was a weapon in this matter. And it was vital we pursue this case."

In court today the judge heard Michael's argument and listened to lawyers from the ACLU and Lamda Legal, who contended that Maryland does recognize out of state same-sex marriages.

They argued that a marriage is entitled to be respected under longstanding Maryland common law.

The judge agreed and granted Snowden's right not to incriminate her wife. With that Deborah was found not guilty.

The couple's lawyers say it is the right decision.

And my client is even safer today now that Maryland respects her as a spouse and she can have the protections that come from being a spouse under Maryland law.

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