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Ireland says ‘I do’ to same-sex marriage

Historic vote makes Ireland 22nd nation to pass equal marriage

Damian and John attended a Yes charity event before the marriage equality referendum. The referendum passed on Saturday, May 23, with 62 percent of voters in favour. 

Credit: Rob Salerno

The eyes of Ireland’s LGBT community were smiling a little wider on May 23 as the results of the nation’s constitutional referendum to allow same-sex marriage were announced, with 62 percent of voters in favor.

The historic referendum was the first nationwide vote on same-sex marriage in the world. But while Ireland’s political establishment was unanimously in favour, and polls were strong going into the referendum, the Yes Equality campaign had previously expressed nervousness that the referendum would be too close to call.

They didn’t  have to worry. Not only did Yes carry the day, but the Yes campaign won a majority of the votes in every district except for Roscommon-South Leitrim.

Huge crowds gathered outside Dublin Castle to watch the referendum results come in live, RTE reports. According to Irish tradition, while the referendum was held on Friday, May 22, the vote count did not begin until the following day.

The celebration continued late into the night with huge crowds partying on Capel Street outside of PantiBar, the gay bar made internationally famous by Irish drag queen Panti Bliss.

Irish gays and lesbians wasted no time sharing their joy on social media.

Irish-Canadian dual citizen Kyle Nishimura, who lives in Dublin with his partner Robert Whelan, announced that they are getting married next July.

“I am chuffed with the result, this is not just about marriage equality but it’s showing just how progressive Ireland has become over the years,” Nishimura says.

Photographer and waiter Aaron McGrath expressed the pride and community that the referendum campaign helped instill in him.

“Kinda sad to stop wearing the badge. I felt a nice little buzz of defiance wearing it loud and proud wherever I went, and loads of times in work it sparked up a frank and open discussion with tables I was serving. One of those discussions left me hopeful I might have changed a no voter’s mind,” he wrote on Facebook. “There’s also been an amazing little look given between two people on the street, like an exclusive group or a private joke. And for me personally anyway it’s been a way to say ‘I’m gay, this affects me and him directly,’ as I walk along holding the hand of the man I love.”

Irish celebrities also tweeted their support.

“So proud of my country. #IrelandVoteYes. 2015 has arrived,” tweeted singer Ronan Keating.