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Hearing set on effort to strike down state's gay marriage amendment

A court hearing is set for a week from Friday on an effort to strike down Wisconsin's constitutional ban on gay marriages and civil unions.

University of Wisconsin-Madison professor William McCone originally said the ban violates the equal protection clause in the U.S. Constitution - an argument Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Ness rejected last fall.

The judge did leave the door open to McCaskey's claim that the state amendment illegally addressed more than one issue.

McCaskey's lawyer said the 2006 ballot question actually asked two questions: whether gay marriages should be banned, and whether anything "substantially similar" to gay marriage should be banned.

But the state Justice Department defended the amendment's language, saying it was all meant to do the same thing.

Fifty-nine percent of Wisconsin voters approved the gay marriage and civil union ban.

If it's overturned, it would only be the fourth time in 124 years that a Wisconsin constitutional amendment was struck down for technical language.

The group Fair Wisconsin, which fought the amendment in 2006, is now helping with the lawsuit.