Dome: Family Policy Council opposes attorney general’s speech at gay rights event

cjarvis@newsobserver.com jstancill@newsobserver.com rchristensen@newsobserver.comOctober 13, 2013 

The N.C. Family Policy Council is organizing opposition to Attorney General Roy Cooper delivering the keynote address at a gay rights organization gala next month.

The council is urging people to call Cooper’s office to let him know they oppose his appearance at Equality N.C.’s event Nov. 9. Equality N.C. praised Cooper for his support of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, as well as his outspoken opposition to the same-sex marriage ban that voters overwhelmingly made part of the state constitution last year.

As attorney general, Cooper is the lead defendant in a lawsuit that challenges the state’s ban on second-parent adoptions (when one partner in an unmarried couple adopts the other’s child, regardless of the sex of the couple). The ACLU is using the lawsuit to try to overturn the marriage amendment.

“So why is our attorney general, who is charged with defending the laws of our state, and who is the lead defendant in a lawsuit that is seeking to overturn the definition of marriage in North Carolina ... participating as the keynote speaker for a group that has such an explicitly expressed and vested interest in redefining marriage in North Carolina?” Family Policy Council executive director John Rustin wrote in a commentary released Friday.

Cooper has said he has a duty to defend the state, regardless of his personal opinions. But some say he has gone too far in expressing his opposition to the constitutional amendment, particularly since he is a likely candidate for governor.

New UNC lawyer OK’d

The UNC Board of Governors unanimously approved the hiring of the university system’s top lawyer on Friday.

Tom Shanahan, who has served since May as interim vice president and general counsel for the 17-campus system, was named to the position permanently. His annual salary will be $250,000.

Shanahan succeeds Laura Fjeld, who resigned from the job in April. He will serve as the legal adviser to the president, the Board of Governors and senior staff members for the system.

UNC President Tom Ross said Shanahan had been a valuable adviser since his arrival at UNC in 2010. “In every instance, he’s done an absolutely outstanding job,” Ross said.

Shanahan is a graduate of Cornell University and the University of Georgia’s law school. Before coming to UNC, he was in private practice and was deputy regional solicitor in the Southeast for the U.S. Department of Labor.

State reps back Tillis

House Speaker Thom Tillis on Friday announced endorsements of his U.S. Senate campaign by several Republican members of his caucus.

He singled out former rival Rep. Paul “Skip” Stam of Apex as an endorsement that he was “especially honored” to have. After the 2010 elections, the GOP caucus in the House was closely split between choosing Tillis or Stam as its new speaker.

“His leadership has been instrumental in helping advance many conservative causes in North Carolina,” Tillis is quoted as saying in a news release that came out Friday.

Tillis also announced endorsements from Wake County Reps. Marilyn Avila, Nelson Dollar, Jim Fulghum, Chris Malone and Tom Murry and Mecklenburg County Reps. Bill Brawley, Rob Bryan, Charles Jeter, Ruth Samuelson and Jacqueline Schaffer.

Military adviser appointed

Gov. Pat McCrory has named Cornell Wilson Jr., a retired Marine Corps major general, as his military affairs adviser.

“Gen. Wilson’s experience aligns with the growing global responsibilities of the commands based in our state,” McCrory said in a statement. “He will be a vital link in ensuring the armed forces get the support they need to carry out their mission.”

Wilson, who lives with his family in Charlotte, had been one of the nation’s highest ranking African-American military officers.

He served as commanding general of the U.S. Marine Forces, Southern Command and as deputy commander of the Marine Forces Command. Wilson also served as the commanding general for a multinational force in Kuwait and Iraq during combat tour in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, among his many postings.

He will represent McCrory in matters of business and economic development in the military and defense community. The state has 100,000 nearly 110,000 active-duty personnel, giving the state the third-largest military population in the country. The military supports 540,000 jobs in the state. Wilson will also advise the governor on operations and plans associated with the state’s six major Department of Defense and Homeland Security Department commands and installations.

Wilson, who will be paid $100,000 per year, will start work Oct. 21.

Staff writers Craig Jarvis, Jane Stancill and Rob Christensen

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