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  • Ireland has voted heavily in favor of allowing same-sex marriage in a historic referendum that marks a dramatic social shift in the traditionally Catholic country.

    Ireland has voted heavily in favor of allowing same-sex marriage in a historic referendum that marks a dramatic social shift in the traditionally Catholic country. | Photo: Reuters

Published 23 May 2015

The final results are in, and Ireland has just voted to legalize same-sex marriage.

Ireland became the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage by referendum Saturday, after a landslide vote.

With the vote counted in all but three constituencies, 62.1 percent of Irish voted in favor of same sex marriage, while 37.9 percent voted against.

The strongest votes in favor of same-sex marriage were in constituencies around Dublin, where the Yes vote was higher than 70 percent in some areas. The largest margin in favor of same-sex marriage was in Dublin South East, 74.9 percent voted Yes, while 25.1 voted No.

Rural areas saw lower support. One of the constituencies where the vote was most closely split was Donegal South West, which voted 50.1 percent in favor, 49.9 percent against. 

The only constituency to vote down same-sex marriage was Roscommon-South Leitrim, where the vote was 51.4 to 48.6 percent.

Nationwide, turnout was 60.5 percent, significantly above previous referendums in Ireland in recent years.

The announcement that Ireland had voted in favor of same-sex marriage was quickly followed by a renewed wave of celebration at Dublin Castle, where equal marriage supporters had gathered throughout the day to hear the results of the referendum. The first celebrations had broken out as polls opened in the morning, and continued as the vote count came in over the afternoon.

 

RELATED: UPDATES: High Turnout Favors Yes in Irish Gay Marriage Vote

The overwhelming victory for equal marriage proponents was widely expected. Within minutes of polls opening earlier in the day, one key opposition figure had already conceded defeat.

"Everyone seems to be predicting a 'yes' ... and that seems to be the case at the moment,” said John Murray from Catholic think tank the Iona Institute. The think tank spearheaded the No vote campaign.

“It's disappointing,” Murray said.

Another prominent No campaigner, David Quinn, took to Twitter to congratulate the Yes campaign.

“Congratulations to the Yes side. Well done,” he wrote.

Ireland's equality minister Aodhan O Ríordain likewise suggested a Yes vote seemed inevitable.

“I think it’s won. I’ve seen bellwether boxes open, middle-of-the road areas who wouldn’t necessarily be liberal and they are resoundingly voting yes,” Ríordain said.

 

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams described the vote as a “huge day for equality.”

“I want to commend all the equality campaigners. It was a wonderful campaign to be part of. They were enthusiastic, idealistic, happy and very very positive,” he said, according to Reuters.

 

Ireland now joins a group of 17 other countries that currently allow gay and lesbian partners to tie the knot, including Argentina, the U.K., New Zealand and Brazil. However, Ireland is the first to pass same-sex marriage legislation by popular vote, demonstrating a major shift in public opinion since 1993, when Ireland was one of the last Western nations to decriminalize homosexuality.

 

Unlike the 1993 vote, this time the Catholic Church led a subdued campaign. While all of Ireland's major political parties – including conservatives – supported the Yes vote this time, the church limited its campaigning to sermons in mass.

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