Ireland made homosexuality legal only in 1993. Twenty-two years later, it became the first nation to make same-sex marriage legal by popular vote.
Six out of ten voters said yes to marriage equality. Turnout was high.
Ireland is a Catholic nation. Abortion, except to save the life of the mother, is still illegal.
Observers say the Catholic Church has been weakened by scandal. Many in the younger generation have changed their ideas about the role of the church. The Prime Minister said, “Today Ireland made history. This decision makes every citizen equal. I believe it will strengthen the institution of marriage.”
Ireland has talked of little else in the last few months. A divide between young and old was predicted. Instead, support cut across age, gender, geography and income.
The vote is historic. A supporter said, “It was a criminal offense to be gay. You could be prosecuted, placed in a lunatic asylum, lose your job, and be destroyed socially.”
The Constitution will now read, ”Civil marriage between two people is now legal without distinction as to their sex.” Parliament has to approve. Then the date for the new rule will be known.
A leader said, “This marks the true separation of church and state.”
About 20 countries have legalized same-sex marriage in the past 15 years, as follows:
The Irish campaign took ten years of advocacy. It is a major watershed in the movement to give legal rights to gay people.
An activist said, “I am thinking of all those young people over the years. They were bullied and committed suicide because of who they were. This vote was for them, too.”
He continued, “This is different from other countries. It was the people who gave it to us. It was not the legislature.”
Source: The New York Times May 23, 2015