A federal judge on Wednesday decided to
consolidate two lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of
Oregon's ban on gay marriage.
U.S. District Judge Michael McShane
scheduled oral arguments in the case for April 23.
The first lawsuit was filed in October
and the second followed two months later.
A petition drive to repeal the ban is
being spearheaded by the group Oregon United for Marriage. The group
announced last month that it had hit its goal of 116,284 signatures
to qualify for the 2014 ballot.
If successful, the referendum would
reverse the state's 2004 voter-approved constitutional amendment
limiting marriage to heterosexual couples and Oregon would make
history as the first state to repeal such a ban.
David Fidanque, executive director of
the ACLU of Oregon, which represents two of the three plaintiff
couples, said the group was committed to bringing marriage equality
to Oregon “as quickly as possible and doing it in a way that
permanently solves the problem.”
“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,” he told
Oregon currently recognizes the
out-of-state legal marriages of gay couples.