Ireland Votes for Equal Marriage
Dr. Sinead Ring
Ireland has become the first country in the world to introduce equal marriage by popular vote. The National Returning Officer made the announcement at 6.57pm local time, announcing that the amendment passed by 1,201,607 votes to 734, 300. That is 62.1% Yes to 37.9% No.
Only one Constituency voted No (Roscommon-South Leitrim - and that was by a margin of only a few per cent). Dublin South East was the highest YES vote at 74%. But the rural parts of the country were also strongly in favour of equal marriage: 61.5% in Galway West and 63.8% in Wexford.
The total turnout was 60.5%, which is the highest turnout for a referendum in 20 years (the Divorce referendum in 1995 had a turnout of 62.2%).
The Amendment means that two people of the same sex can legally marry and these couples are afforded the same constitutional protections and rights as married couples of the opposite sex. These constitutional protections include the right to autonomy or freedom from interference by the State. Children of married same sex married couples will be included in the definition of family for the purposes of the Constitution. See Fergus Ryan’s blog here for more details.
Legislation will now be passed to allow for the amendment to take place. Minister for Justice and Equality and Law Reform Frances Fitzgerald TD stated on RTE Television that the legislation would be passed this summer.
The referendum result is a wonderful moment of victory for the campaigners for Equal marriage. Those of us who worried about the idea of a public vote for a minority’s fundamental civil right to marry have to think again as the country is swept along in a tide of joy and political awakening. Just check this link out to see what I mean: https://twitter.com/search?src=typd&q=%23marref
Of course this vote is also about more than marriage; it speaks to a new political engagement of young people, of a new separation of Church and State. And it feels wonderful.