Political reporter Mark Binker dies at 43

Veteran statehouse reporter Mark Binker died unexpectedly on Saturday at the age of 43. He covered state government for 12 years, first for the Greensboro News & Record, then for WRAL, and most recently for the Raleigh News & Observer’s The Insider newsletter.

A YouCaring fundraising page has been set up for funeral expenses and to support the needs of Binker’s family. A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. May 12 at the A.J. Fletcher Opera Theater in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Raleigh, WRAL reports. Binker was a highly regarded journalist, and since his death, he has received condolences from several state leaders.

Republican Senate Leader Phil Berger expressed his condolences to Binker’s wife and three sons and said in a statement that the highest compliment he can give is Binker as a reporter is that “through almost 15 years of regular interaction with him, I have no idea what his personal politics were. In a statement on Facebook, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper called Binker “an outstanding journalist who uniquely understood complex issues” who “never ducked asking tough questions, or stopped digging for more.”

Same-sex marriage ‘not valid,’ lawmakers say in new bill

Four North Carolina House Republicans introduced a bill Tuesday that would defy the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling legalizing same-sex marriage. House Bill 780, titled “Uphold Historical Marriage Act,” says the Supreme Court’s ruling would be “null and void” and declares “marriages between persons of the same gender not valid.” The bill also quotes the following portion of the Bible: “A man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24, ESV). The proposed legislation gained widespread attention after a tweet from Buzzfeed News national reporter Dominic Holden.

The Raleigh News & Observer reported that the bill would order North Carolina to return to the constitutional amendment known as Amendment One, which was approved in a 2012 voter referendum. Same-sex marriages performed in other states wouldn’t be recognized in North Carolina under HB 780. The bill’s primary sponsor, Rep. Larry Pittman of Cabarrus, is a Christian minister. According to a WRAL article, Pittman refused to comment on the legislation he filed. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper released a statement saying, “The bill is wrong. We need more LGBT protections, not fewer.”

Holden called the bill “preposterous” and said it won’t become law. The News & Observer reported HB 780 was sponsored by the House’s most conservative legislators — a group that frequently files bills that don’t get a hearing because House GOP leaders don’t support the proposals.