Ireland Says Yaas to Same-Sex Marriage by Public Vote

Here’s to a huge victory in the fight for marriage equality. On May 22nd 2015, Ireland became the first country to legalize marriage by popular vote. In the world.

The result (an overwhelming almost 2:1 vote) serves as a milestone in the fight for marriage equality worldwide. But it makes for a particularly notable milestone given that homosexual acceptance made somewhat of a gradual transition in Ireland over the past 50 years. Although same-sex activity was only decriminalized in 1993 (woah), a generally liberal LGBTQ climate has developed. Many popular TV shows have had gay characters come out and a former president with a gay family member endorsed votes in favor of same-sex marriage. Rather than sensationalizing these actions in the media as bold activism, Ireland’s organic approach seems to have yielded the finest results.

"A lot of straight Irish people just wanted to be given the opportunity to show that they were not prejudiced," claims Irish journalist Una Mullally. "They had no issue with people who were gay having their relationships recognized, that they wanted to live in a country where all citizens are valued equally."

The outcome came as a surprise to some due to Ireland’s traditionally conservative nature (see contraception bans and treatment of unmarried mothers) but many have noticed and rejoiced in the changing times. While the church lost many followers after various scandals and a steady gap between the church and young people, the rise of “cultural Catholics” — people who follow some of the church’s ceremonies but not the antiquated views — has surfaced.

It’s clear the time’s are a-changin’ and it’s exciting to see Ireland express such enthusiasm. We only hope more countries will follow. Congratulations, Ireland!

Photo by Aidan Crawley.

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