Yesterday, Ireland held a referendum on the question of marriage equality, in which Irish citizens were asked whether or not they agreed with the statement: “Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.” Voters flocked to the polls in droves to vote Yes, almost 60,000 of them expatriates.
This very morning, the votes were counted and an overwhelming majority — about 62 percent! — voted in favor of same-sex marriage, which means Ireland will become the 20th country to legalize gay marriage at a national level, and the first to do so by popular vote. An official announcement is expected later this afternoon.
It is an enormous victory! Or, as Aodhán Ó Ríordáin TD, Irish Minister of State for Equality, New Communities, Culture & National Drugs Strategy, put it:
Ireland hasn’t just said “Yes”… Ireland has said: “F
— Aodhán Ó Ríordáin TD (@AodhanORiordain) May 23, 2015
The Yes vote happened just 22 years after Ireland became one of the last countries to decriminalize homosexuality, and at at time when many people believed the Roman Catholic Church’s broad, longstanding influence in the country would prevent it. The conversation this morning feels globally victorious. Ireland’s Yes was so forcefully pro-gay that politicians and activists in other countries are vowing to redouble their efforts to make same-sex marriage a reality in their homes.
According to The Guardian, convener of Australian Marriage Equality Rodney Croome believes Australian politicians will be embarrassed that they are falling so far behind in the world of social progress: “If there was ever any doubt that marriage equality was inevitable in Australia, the Irish vote has removed it. The questions is not if, but when.”
Way to show us all how it’s done, you Irish heroes! (All eyes are on you now, Supreme Court of the United States.)
Edit: The earliest version of this post cited the real-time estimate that 75 percent of voters cast their ballot in favor of marriage equality. Now that the results are in, the post has been updated to reflect that 62% of all votes were Yes votes.