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Judge’s Ruling Lifts |Civil Union Injunction

PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) - An Oregon law allowing same-sex couples to register as domestic partners went into effect after a federal judge dismissed a referendum petition.

U.S. District Judge Michael Mosman ended a 34-day stay on the state's domestic-partnership law, which was originally scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 1.

He issued an oral judgment rejecting the claims of the Alliance Defense Fund, an Arizona-based Christian group whose members claimed their signatures were wrongfully disqualified on referendum petitions that fell 96 signatures short of the 55,179 required to place the law on the November 2008 ballot.

The fund argued that state and county elections officials should have made more of an effort to call voters whose signatures were disqualified, and their failure to do so violated due process.

But Mosman said the state cannot promise that each signature will be counted. He also rejected plaintiffs' First Amendment claims on the grounds that the signature requirements are content-neutral and do not unduly burden plaintiffs' "ability to go out into the public and ask for signatures."The Alliance Defense Fund said it would appeal Mosman's ruling.

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