(CNN) - North Carolina voters have passed a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, CNN projects, putting a ban that already existed in state law into the state's charter.
With more than 1.5 million votes counted from Tuesday's referendum, supporters of the ban led opponents by a margin of 61% to 39%, according to figures from the State Board of Elections. Its backers prepared to celebrate by serving wedding cake to their supporters in a Raleigh ballroom.
Tami Fitzgerald, the head of Vote for Marriage NC, said she had been confident that "the people of North Carolina would rise up and vote to keep the opposition from redefining traditional marriage.
"We are not anti-gay, we are pro-marriage," she said. "And the point - the whole point - is simply that you don't rewrite the nature of God's design for marriage based on the demands of a group of adults."
Meanwhile, a spokesman for one of the groups opposing the amendment told CNN, "The numbers are not looking the way we hope they would look."
"We have been down in the polls, and this certainly is not coming as a surprise," said Paul Guequierre, of the Coalition to Protect North Carolina Families. "But it is certainly not what we had hoped for."
(CNN) - A top U.S. Justice Department official warned Alabama's education department that the state's controversial immigration law has had "lasting" and possibly illegal consequences for Hispanic school children, according to a letter released Thursday.
"(The law has) diminished access to and quality of education for many of Alabama's Hispanic children, resulted in missed school days, chilled or prevented the participation of parents in their children's education, and transformed the climates of some schools into less safe and welcoming spaces for Hispanic children," wrote Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez, head of the federal department's Civil Rights Division.
The legislation, known as HB 56, has several provisions, including one requiring police who make lawful traffic stops or arrests to try to determine the immigration status of anyone they suspect might be in the country illegally.
A federal appeals court has blocked some components, however, including one requiring Alabama officials to check the immigration status of children in public schools.
Even with such changes mandated by the courts and others proposed by legislators, Perez argues in a letter to state Superintendent of Education Thomas Bice that the bill already has had negative effects.
He points to data provided by Alabama officials that, he says, shows that "Hispanic students absence rates tripled while absence rates for other groups of students remained virtually flat." That includes a sharp drop in those getting schooling through English as a second language programs, meaning they did not "receive the educational services to which they are legally entitled."
By the CNN Wire Staff
(CNN) - The number of interracial couples in the United States has reached an all-time high, with one in every 10 American opposite-sex married couples saying they're of mixed races, according to the most recent Census data released Wednesday.
In 2000, that figure was about 7%.
The rate of interracial partnerships also is much higher among the unmarried, the 2010 Census showed.
About 18% of opposite-sex unmarried couples and 21% of same-sex unmarried partners identify themselves as interracial.
The term interracial, as it pertains to the study, is defined as members of a couple identifying as of different races or ethnicities.
Analysts suggest the new figures could reflect U.S. population shifts, broader social acceptance of such unions and a more widespread willingness among those polled to be classified as mixed race.
By the CNN Wire Staff
(CNN) - Net Mexican immigration to the United States has slowed to a standstill, according to a report released Monday.
The number of immigrants coming from Mexico to the United States has steeply declined while the number of Mexicans leaving the United States has increased sharply, the Pew Hispanic Center said.
"These developments represent a notable reversal of the historic pattern of Mexican immigration to the U.S., which has risen dramatically over the past four decades," the center's report says.
Many factors are probably behind the trend, the report said, including rising deportations, greater enforcement at the border, growing dangers associated with border crossings, the weakened U.S. job market and a long-term decline in Mexico's birth rates.
The 1.37 million Mexican immigrants who came to the United States between 2005 and 2010 was about half the number who immigrated during previous five-year periods, according to the analysis, which was based on national population surveys in the United States and Mexico.