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UNC system bans co-gender housing, earning conservative praise

The UNC Board of Governors voted Friday to ban UNC campuses from letting students of opposite genders live in the same dorm suites or apartments. Trustees at UNC-Chapel Hill had endorsed the idea of “gender-neutral” housing last year, after a yearlong push from students who said the move was necessary to give gay, lesbian and transgender students a place free of harassment.

But others thought such living arrangements would be inappropriate. Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the NC Values Coalition, released a statement after the Board of Governors action Friday. “We applaud the UNC Board of Governors for passing a uniform housing policy that will prohibit students of the opposite sex from living together in on-campus housing unless they are siblings or legally married,” Fitzgerald said.

Bill would allow employers to exclude birth control from health insurance plans

A bill allowing private employers to refuse to cover contraception in their health insurance plans and to place new restrictions on abortions cleared a House committee Wednesday morning and is headed for a vote of the full chamber.

The legislation would also prohibit coverage for abortions in the new state health insurance exchange that is part of the federal Affordable Care Act, and through the plans cities and counties offer their workers. It also says any health-care provider can refuse to participate in abortions; current law protects doctors and nurses.

The bill is off to a rocky start, as Republicans in a House judiciary committee were not unified in supporting it. Rep. Bob Steinburg, a freshman Republican from Edenton who described himself as a hardcore abortion opponent, said he would only support the bill if the prohibition on contraception coverage was removed.

NC Values Coalition leader addresses multitudes

Raleigh's Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the N.C. Values Coalition, spoke to a rally in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday in an event coinciding with the U.S. Supreme Court taking up the gay marriage debate.

The coalition said it was a crowd of 10,000 on the National Mall for the National March for Marriage. Fitzgerald touted North Carolina's vote last year to amend its constitution to ban same-sex marriage.

"Government recognizes marriage because it is an institution that benefits society in a way that no other relationship does," Fitzgerald reportedly said. "Marriage is rooted in the reality that children need a mother and a father."

NC Values Coalition files same-sex marriage brief with U.S. Supreme Court

The North Carolina Values Coalition has filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court to defend the definition of marriage that voters solidified in the state constitution last year.

The amicus brief was filed as the Supreme Court takes up California’s marriage amendment and the federal Defense of Marriage Act later this year. The brief seeks to defend the state’s right to define marriage as only between a man and a woman.

“A state mandate to affirm same-sex marriage would have an explosive impact on religious persons who could easily treat all individuals with equal respect and dignity but cannot in good conscience endorse or facilitate same-sex marriage,” the brief says in part.

Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the coalition, said in a statement that her organization filed the brief defending North Carolina’s amendment because Attorney General Roy Cooper has not.

Christian Action League opposes gender-neutral university housing

The N.C. Christian Action League objects to the UNC-Chapel Hill trustees' decision last week to allow male and female students to share dorm suites and canpus apartments, saying it would be a special privelidge for gay, lesbian and transgender students.

The policy was adopted after students said they were made to feel uncomforable in their suites or dorm rooms because of their sexual orientation.

An article in the Christian Action League newsletter quotes the Rev. Mark Creech, the group's executive director,  saying that gender neutral housing amounted to special protections for people who choose alternative lifestyles, and was costly to the larger society.

Tami Fitzgerald, director of the N.C. Values Coalition, said readers should urge trustees to change their minds.

"The UNC Board of Trustees is bending over backward to please the homosexual lobby - a group that represents only about 3 percent of the population - without regard for the consequences..." she told the Christian Action League. "To make matters worse, our tax dollars subsidize the University of North Carolina system."

Democratic platform rattles gay marriage opponents in N.C. to life

UPDATED: The N.C. Values Coalition wasted no time in trying to capitalize on Democrats' platform supporting same-sex marriage.

The group's executive director, Tami Fitzgerald, sent an fundraising solicitation Wednesday asking supporters to "defend the amendment we fought so hard to pass in May."

Pro-amendment groups tout local boards endorsements

Avery County's commissioners became the seventh local board in North Carolina to endorse the constitutional marriage amendment Monday, passing a resolution to support the effort. "Across North Carolina, boards of commissioners are taking strong stands for marriage," said Tami Fitzgerald, chairwoman of Vote for Marriage NC, the leading pro-amendment group. "The outpouring of support for the Amendment proves that the people of North Carolina should have their voices heard on marriage."

Other counties boards include: Wake, Brunswick, Stanly, McDowell, Union and Lincoln counties, according to the organization. The amendment will codify a current state law in the constitution banning gay marriage and civil unions from being recognized in North Carolina.

Stam aide eyes state Senate seat

As an aide to the former House Republican leader, Chad Barefoot worked the halls of the legislative office building long enough to come to a realization: "I can do this."

Now Barefoot, 28, is a candidate for the new state Senate seat in District 18. "I come from a long line of public servants," he said. "I have always been passionate about helping people through public policy."

Barefoot worked as an aide for state Rep. Paul "Skip" Stam for six years, including the last three in Stam's legislative office as a policy analyst. He resigned his position at the end of November as he launched his first political bid. He is now the business development direction at Pioneer Strategies, a public relations firm run by Frank Williams.

The new district including Franklin County and parts of eastern Wake County, forming a reverse "c" that stretches from Rolesville through parts of Zebulon, Knightdale, Garner and Fuquay-Varina. Barefoot is a Thomasville native but his parents grew up in Garner. He now lives in Wake Forest.

State Rep. Glen Bradley, a Youngsville Republican, is also seeking the seat. Bradley's libertarian streak is legendary: He suggested that the state create its own currency and proposed removing the state from the certification of marriage.

The match-up makes for an interesting primary race given that Bradley, who has often bucked his party, faces the aide of the House GOP leader. Barefoot, however, says he isn't running as the establishment challenge to Bradley. He said he considered entering politics for a longtime and doesn't want to "tear down people in my own party to build myself up."

Barefoot, who received a graduate degree in Christian ethics from Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, is married to Paige Barefoot, an aide to House Speaker Pro Tem Dale Folwell. Her mother is Tami Fitzgerald, a lobbyist who worked with Stam and Folwell to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot to ban gay marriage and civil unions.

Family Policy Council questions poll

A conservative group has questioned the Elon poll.

Tami Fitzgerald, an attorney with the conservative N.C. Family Policy Council, told the Associated Press that she disputed the methodology of the Elon University Poll which showed 50 percent of North Carolinians opposed a constitutional ban on gay marriage.

She argued that it surveyed all adults and not likely voters.

And she said the poll's question, which asked if the person would vote to "prevent any same-sex marriages," carried a negative tone that may have skewed the results.

"Phrasing it in a negative way probably elicited a stronger response in the negative," she said. Fitzgerald suggested asking if the person would approve an amendment defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

Pollsters with the conservative Civitas Institute, which has polled that wording, also objected to the Elon poll.

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