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Oregon

Judge consolidates lawsuits seeking to overturn Ore. gay marriage ban

Thursday, January 23, 2014

PORTLAND, Ore. — Oregon’s ban on same-sex marriage might be overturned before voters receive their ballots this fall.

A federal judge in Eugene on Wednesday decided to consolidate two lawsuits alleging Oregon’s ban violates the U.S. Constitution. Judge Michael McShane, an Obama appointee, set oral arguments for April 23.

OregonPortland attorneys Lake Perriguey and Lea Ann Easton filed a lawsuit in October on behalf of two women in a relationship for more than 30 years. Two months later, the American Civil Liberties Union and lawyers from two firms went to court on behalf of a lesbian couple and a gay couple.

Perriguey opposed a motion to combine the lawsuits, concerned it would delay a ruling. The lawyers who filed the December lawsuit supported consolidation, saying the cases present the same legal issues and it wouldn’t significantly prolong the outcome.

As the court case moves forward, the campaign to win marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples announced this week it has collected more than 127,000 petition signatures. Organizers only need to collect 116,284 valid signatures by July 3 to make the November ballot.

In 2004, voters by a margin of 57 percent to 43 percent voted to amend the Oregon constitution to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Campaign organizers hope to make Oregon the first state to vote out a constitutional amendment that bans gay marriage.

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David Fidanque, executive director of the Oregon chapter of the ACLU, said a potential court victory would not lessen the importance of the 2014 election.

“We’re committed to bringing (gay) marriage to Oregon as quickly as possible and doing it in a way that permanently solves the problem,” he said. “And that’s why we’re pursuing the parallel tracks of the court action and the ballot measure. It’s important to get the constitutional ban out of the state constitution even if the litigation is successful .”

The lawsuits contend the state ban subjects same-sex couples to second-class status and deprives them and their children of the dignity and legal protections given to other Oregon families. Similar arguments have been made in lawsuits filed across the United States.

Federal judges in Oklahoma and Utah recently overturned bans on same-sex marriage, but those decisions are being appealed.

Fidanque said the possibility of an appeal is another reason why the ACLU hopes same-sex marriage is successful at the ballot box, even if McShane sides with the plaintiffs.

“Judging by what’s happening in the federal cases in other states, the paths through the courts are serpentine and unknowable in terms of final outcome,” he said.

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23 more reader comments:

  1. Garrett Piersa

    Posted on Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 6:12pm
  2. One by one these dominoes are falling!! I love it.
    Some are putting up a fight but equality will win

    Posted on Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 6:14pm
  3. My home state!

    Posted on Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 6:15pm
  4. Va, Colo and now Oregon what a day…what the hell its all unconstitutional lets be done with it all and end the inequality.

    Posted on Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 6:18pm
  5. Florida filed this week too! :D

    Replied on Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 6:23pm
  6. Awesome!

    Replied on Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 7:24pm
  7. BOOM! Another one down!

    Posted on Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 6:19pm
  8. Come on Georgia!!!

    Posted on Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 6:20pm
  9. Leanne Perkins okay babe maybe we can move here now! And get a couple acre “a by the rolloffs :))

    Posted on Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 6:23pm
  10. queues *Another One Bites the Dust*

    Posted on Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 6:24pm
  11. Those old bigots are getting mighty nervous in the usa, your time will come where your bigotry & intolerance will soon be confined to your ashamed past

    Posted on Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 6:24pm
  12. Florida joined the fight this week as well filing a suit against the state’s ban!

    Posted on Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 6:24pm
  13. Such great news. Made my day.

    Posted on Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 6:26pm
  14. After the debacle in Indiana this week I’m glad to see some progress somewhere.

    Posted on Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 6:33pm
  15. Good Get em Oregon! !! Best wishes to you all.

    Posted on Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 6:37pm
  16. Having the constitutional amendment on the ballot in the fall is the better way to go.

    Remember Prohibition? It was not canceled via the courts but with another amendment. Same goes here. Once a constitution is amended the amendment (by definition) is constitutional.

    Posted on Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 6:40pm
  17. Posted on Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 6:42pm
  18. Sounds nice an efficient.

    Posted on Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 8:57pm
  19. I would prefer it if they do it by popular vote.

    Posted on Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 11:51pm
  20. We should all move to one state and make our own laws. The first law would be to outlaw hetro marriage. If you think of any more post them here

    Posted on Friday, January 24, 2014 at 1:13am
  21. Hope he overturns this slap in the face to our gay community!

    Posted on Friday, January 24, 2014 at 3:59am
  22. the way i see it i say let those who are against have there views…they can think what they want…becuase in the end they will lose…trying to stop this is like trying to prevent winter from coming….

    Posted on Friday, January 24, 2014 at 4:00am
  23. Wtg Oregon yay

    Posted on Friday, January 24, 2014 at 12:40pm