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Maryland judge rules same-sex spouse has privilege

HAGERSTOWN — A Maryland judge has ruled that a woman who married her lesbian partner in Washington, D.C. can invoke her right not to testify against her in a domestic assault case.

Washington County Circuit Judge Donald E. Beachley on Thursday acquitted 50-year-old Deborah Snowden of Williamsport of assault. Deborah Snowden and 38-year-old Sharron Snowden married in Washington, where same-sex marriages are legal, in August 2010.

Deborah Snowden was charged in December 2010 with assault after allegedly threatening Sharron Snowden with a knife.

The trial began in April, but Sharron Snowden invoked her spousal privilege not to testify.

Beachley ruled that Maryland generally recognizes a marriage as valid as long as it was valid in the jurisdiction in which it took place. Maryland does not allow same-sex couples to marry.