Ireland: Yes win in marriage equality poll: Historic step for equality
May 23, 2015 -- Irish Republican News, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Ireland has become the first country to legalise same-sex marriage through a popular vote, with indications from all count centres across the country showing Yes votes outnumbering No votes by about two-to-one.
Tallies from the Dublin constituencies show a Yes vote of around 70% while other areas are said to be slightly lower, at around 60%. The official result will be announced on May 23 afternoon.
It was one of the highest ever turnouts for a referendum in the country, with almost 60% of registered voters taking part. In the last referendum, two years ago, only 39% voted nationally in an unsuccessful bid to abolish the Seanad, the upper house of the Dublin parliament.
In a state where homophobia has been the norm -- homosexuality remained illegal until 1993, and gay men were often forced to join the priesthood -- the result marks a significant "coming out" for Ireland’s LGBT community.
It was also a stunning success for the Yes campaign, largely funded by Irish-American billionaire Chuck Feeney, and opposed by only two of Ireland’s 166 members of parliament.
Although officially against the measure, the Catholic Church in Ireland took a low-key approach to the referendum, partly due to some support within the church itself. In January, a Dublin priest announced during a Saturday night Mass that he supported the referendum and that he is gay. His congregants gave him a standing ovation.
But the most dramatic support on Friday came from an unexpected source: Irish emigrants. Under Ireland’s controversial electoral laws, Irish citizens are only allowed to vote for 18 months after they move abroad, and must travel back to Ireland to cast their ballot.
The journey home to cast their vote became an emotional homecoming for many and there were renewed demands for the Dublin government to legislate for a postal vote for emigrants.
Joey Kavanagh, who organised a bus-and-ferry journey from London, said he and about 50 others made the eight-hour journey back to Dublin. He said he had been “genuinely overwhelmed” by the scale and the scope of the "Home to Vote" movement.
Cormac O’Sullivan, a 34-year-old humanitarian aid worker, flew home from Nairobi to Cork to vote. “Equality for the LGBTQ community has been something my family has always supported,” he said.
Siomha Brock, a 27-year-old musician from County Clare, travelled back from Vancouver. “It’s more than just about marriage; it is an opportunity to open our arms to the LGBT community,” she said. “My partner and I want to be seen as equal in our home country.”
Scenes of returning emigrants filling Dublin airport had an electric effect on Yes campaigners on polling day. Author Colm O’Regan tweeted that it was like a scene from The Hobbit: “An army of elves you’d forgotten from earlier in the film arrive over a hill.”
Some said they hoped that the end of official discrimination against gays and lesbians would mark the end of the overbearing influence on government policy of the scandal-plagued Catholic Church.
“It’s a different era,” said Pat Carey, a former government minister who came out as gay in February, at age 67, and who campaigned for a Yes vote. “There’s a whole new demographic out there that has a vision of an Ireland that’s kinder, more inclusive and more tolerant.”
Fine Gael’s Simon Coveney also said there was a sense as people voted of Ireland “letting something negative go, leaving a prejudice we know is there as part of our history behind us”.
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams said the referendum had “brought the issues of inclusion and equality to the fore of public discourse in a very positive way”. “I want to commend all those who took part in the campaign over recent weeks and all those who voted, especially those who voted ‘Yes’,” he said.
People were also asked whether to reduce the minimum age of presidential candidates from 35 to 21 years, while a Dail by-election was also held in the Carlow-Kilkenny constituency.
The results of all counts will be officially declared late May 23 afternoon.
A good day for equality and for Ireland -- Gerry AdamsMay 23, 2015 -- Sinn Féin -- Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has said it now seems clear that there will be an overwhelming 'Yes' vote in the Same Sex Marriage referendum. He said it was a good day for equality and and a good day for Ireland.
Gerry Adams said: "It appears to be an overwhelming 'Yes' vote across the State. This is a very good day for equality and a very good day for Ireland.
"Irish people have demonstrated that we are a decent, tolerant and compassionate people.
"I want to commend all those who took part in the campaign over recent weeks and all those who voted, especially those who voted 'Yes'.
"I want to congratulate the Sinn Féin members across the State who worked hard for a 'Yes' vote and to thank the Sinn Féin 'Yes' campaign director, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn TD.
"During the campaign we heard a lot of talk from all political parties about the need for equality. We now need to see that sentiment extended to the social and economic sphere.
"Sinn Féin will continue to demand that all government policies and budgets are equality proofed. This is essential if we are to construct a truly equal society.
“The marriage equality rights that will now be enjoyed by citizens in the south must be available to all in the north. Sinn Féin will continue to campaign for equal rights for all.
"Another very notable aspect of the campaign was the huge desire among our diaspora for the right to vote. It underlines the case that our emigrants should no longer be denied a voice in our democracy."