Ireland's voters approve same-sex marriage May 23, 2015 20:47:53 GMT
Post by Admin on May 23, 2015 20:47:53 GMT
Irish voters backed legalizing gay marriage by a landslide, electoral officials announced Saturday — a stunning result that illustrates the rapid social change taking place in this traditionally Catholic nation. Friday's referendum saw 62.1 percent of Irish voters saying "yes" to changing the nation's constitution to allow gay marriage. Outside Dublin Castle, watching the results announcement in the castle's cobblestoned courtyard, thousands of gay rights activists cheered, hugged and cried at the news.
The unexpectedly strong percentage of approval surprised both sides. Analysts and campaigners credited the "yes" side with adeptly using social media to mobilize first-time young voters and for a series of searing personal stories from Irish gay people that convinced voters to back equal marriage rights. Ireland is the first country to approve gay marriage in a popular national vote. Nineteen other countries have legalized the practice.
"We're the first country in the world to enshrine marriage equality in our constitution and do so by popular mandate. That makes us a beacon, a light to the rest of the world, of liberty and equality. So it's a very proud day to be Irish," said Leo Varadkar, a Cabinet minister who came out as gay at the start of a government-led effort to amend Ireland's conservative Catholic constitution. "People from the LGBT community in Ireland are a minority. But with our parents, our families, or friends and co-workers and colleagues, we're a majority," said Varadkar, who watched the votes being tabulated at the County Dublin ballot center. "For me it wasn't just a referendum. It was more like a social revolution."
Political analysts who have covered Irish referendums for decades agreed that Saturday's emerging landslide marked a stunning generational shift from the 1980s, when voters still firmly backed Catholic Church teachings and overwhelmingly voted against abortion and divorce. "We're in a new country," said political analyst Sean Donnelly, who called the result "a tidal wave" that has produced pro-gay marriage majorities in even the most traditionally conservative rural corners of Ireland.