US: Two key Oregon same-sex marriage lawsuits consolidated by judge

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In a move which could potentially open the door to more quickly removing a ban on same-sex marriage, a federal judge consolidated two lawsuits seeking just that.

A lawsuit filed in October 2013 on behalf of two women in a 30+ year relationship, and a December lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of one lesbian and one gay couples were merged.

Oral arguments were set for the now consolidated cases for 23 April this year by Judge Michael McShane.

An attorney for the October lawsuit opposed the combining of the two, expressing concern that it might delay the decision, however the lawyers from the December lawsuit supported the decision.

A 2004 constitutional amendment approved by 57% of voters to 43%, defined marriage as exclusively between one man and one woman.

Campaigners have just announced a petition which has over 127,000 signatures towards putting a question on the ballot to reverse the amendment.

Gay rights advocates commended the two possible channels towards achieving equal marriage, hoping for the quickest possible outcome.

The question would go on a November ballot for voters.