Ireland votes yes for marriage equality

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Ireland certainly has something to celebrate: it was announced on Saturday, May 23 that the people of Ireland have said yes to marriage equality by an overwhelming margin.  

Irish polls had what was reported as unusually high voter turnout, especially among younger voters. Since there was no allowance for voting by mail, many Irish citizens made the effort to travel back to their homeland in order to vote in the historical election.

In total, 1,201,607 people voted in favor of legalizing marriage equality, while only 734,300 voted against it.

Out of all the counties in the Republic of Ireland, Roscommon was the only one to vote no, by a narrow margin of 51.4 percent. Dublin South East had the highest margin of yes voters, at 74.9 percent.

The passage of the marriage equality referendum is creating even bigger shockwaves: it looks as though Australia may be asked to hold a similar referendum. 

Many celebrities spoke out in favor of the momentous occasion. Stephen Fry said, “The Irish people spoke. And the words they spoke were Respect, Dignity and, loudest of all, Love. The sanctity of marriage has been upheld.”

Actor Chris O’Dowd, a Roscommon native, said in a stroke of irony for the county’s no vote, “I was awarded the freedom of Roscommon. Martin McAleese has the same honour. In protest to [the]county’s No vote, we’re french-kissing right now.” 

While the votes were pouring in in favor of marriage equality, two lesbians asked their long-term partners to marry them. One couple was Ann Louise Gilligan and Katherine Zappone: a member of the Irish senate and an ex-nun, respectively. They were married in Canada in 2003, but have been fighting to have the Irish government recognize their marriage since then.

Gilligan said, “I said yes to Katherine 12 years ago at our marriage in Canada. Now we are bringing the yes back home to Ireland, our country, yes, yes, yes.”

While the US waits to hear from the Supreme Court about the constitutionality of marriage equality in the US, other countries are showing they are ready to say yes. This is a major step forward, especially for more conservative countries like Ireland.

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