Ireland Votes to Legalize Gay Marriage 05/23 08:29
DUBLIN (AP) -- Ireland has voted resoundingly to legalize gay marriage in
the world's first national vote on the issue, leaders on both sides of the
Irish referendum declared Saturday even as official ballot counting continued.
Senior figures from the "no" campaign, who sought to prevent Ireland's
constitution from being amended to permit same-sex marriages, say the only
question is how large the "yes" side's margin of victory will be from Friday's
"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
"There is going to be a very substantial majority for a yes vote. I'm not at
all surprised by that to be honest with you," said Irish Sen. Ronan Mullen, one
of only a handful of politicians who campaigned for rejection.
Political analyst Noel Whelan noted that "yes" majorities were being
reported even in conservative rural districts and suggested the only question
was how large the "yes" majority would be when all ballots in this
predominantly Catholic nation of 4.6 million are counted.
Varadkar, who personally watched the votes being tabulated at the County
Dublin ballot center, said the Irish capital looks to have voted around 70
percent in favor of gay marriage, while most districts outside the capital also
were reporting strong "yes" leads. He said not a single district yet had
reported a "no" majority. Official results come later Saturday.
The anti-gay marriage side credited "yes" campaigners with running a
creative, compelling campaign that harnessed the power of social media to
mobilize young voters, tens of thousands of whom voted for the first time
Friday. They also said a "no" victory was always unlikely given that all
political parties and most politicians backed the legalization of homosexual
unions, just five years after parliament approved marriage-style civil
partnerships for gay couples.
Fianna Fail party leader Michael Martin, whose party is traditionally
closest to the Catholic Church but like all other parties campaigned to
legalize gay marriage, said it "looks like an emphatic win for the yes side."
Voters in his native Cork were being recorded by observers as more than 60
John Lyons, one of the four openly gay lawmakers in Ireland's 166-member
parliament, said he was surprised by how many older voters he met on the
campaign trail who were voting yes. But he paid special credit to the
mobilization of younger voters, many of whom traveled home from work or studies
abroad to vote.
"Most of the young people I canvassed with have never knocked on a door in
their lives," said Lyons, who represents northwest Dublin in parliament. "This
says something about modern Ireland. Let's never underestimate the electorate
or what they think."