Under the Dome

Dome: Anti-gay marriage forces are marshaling

STAFF WRITERDecember 2, 2011 

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The battle lines are emerging in the fight over a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage and civil unions, as a new pro-amendment committee has formed.

A group of religious and advocacy organizations on Thursday announced the formation of Vote for Marriage N.C. to spearhead the campaign supporting the marriage amendment May 8 on the primary ballot.

The amendment would make marriage between one man and one woman the only domestic legal union recognized in the state.

The N.C. Values Coalition led the fight to get the amendment approved by the legislature earlier this year, and has made the first donation to the pro-amendment committee: $1,000.

Pro-amendment organizers plan to appeal to a broad group of voters but will focus particular attention on black voters and the faith community, especially after N.C. Baptists endorsed the amendment. Tami Fitzgerald, a founding member of the group, said the campaign's message will focus on how marriage affects children and the economy: that it "generates the next generation of workers and the next generation of healthy children."

An anti-amendment committee, the Coalition to Protect North Carolina Families, formed in November.

Video sweepstakes

The gambling compact Gov. Bev Perdue negotiated with the Cherokee Indians is giving the video sweepstakes industry an opening to push for more recognition.

"As the Governor and Legislature looks at new gaming rights for the Cherokee, we want them to take a second look at the video sweepstakes industry," said Chase Brooks, president of the Internet Based Sweepstakes Organization of North Carolina. "The Internet Based Sweepstakes Organization continues to support legislation that would regulate the industry and provide a new stream of reliable tax revenue to the state of North Carolina."

A state law passed in 2010 prohibits "electronic machines and devices used for sweepstakes purposes," a ban state lawmakers enacted as part of their third attempt to do away with all forms of video gambling. But the law is still mired in legal mush as the N.C. Court of Appeals considers two cases.

In his statement, Brooks said most the video sweepstakes industry is complying with the new law, making the court case largely irrelevant.

"Our message is simple, we will find a way to survive," Brooks continued. "There is a valid market for this type of gaming and entertainment. We will (adapt) to the law and we will continue to operate. We think it is time for the leaders of the state to work with the video entertainment industry to find ways to regulate it and do like they are doing in Cherokee, tax it to generate new revenues with it."

Price pushes back on voter ID

U.S. Rep. David Price is co-sponsoring three new bills aimed at thwarting Republican efforts in North Carolina and elsewhere to crack down on voter fraud - or to disenfranchise potential voters, depending on your point of view.

The bills would prohibit any requirements that people have photo identification to vote, as well as protect same-day registration and absentee balloting.

"Half a million North Carolina residents - including many minorities, seniors, women and young people - do not have a photo ID," the Chapel Hill Democrat said in a news release. "The General Assembly is trying to make it harder for these citizens to vote. It is an attack on voting rights, plain and simple."

Republican lawmakers in the state legislature this year passed a voter ID bill but have not been able to muster enough votes to override the governor's veto. GOP leaders are considering other maneuvers to accomplish their goal.

The Democratic National Committee is promoting the three-bill campaign. Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz announced them Thursday in a conference call with reporters.

jfrank@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4649