The votes are still being counted, but with a majority of people voting Yes, Ireland will become the first country to approve a national referendum for same-sex marriage.
Irish citizens went out in overwhelming numbers to vote whether they wanted to have an amendment added to the Constitution, which states, “Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.” The turnout, which included Irish voters who flew back home to vote at their polling stations, was expected to top 60 percent—the first time that’s happened since the country legalized divorce in 1995.
David Quinn, the head of the Iona Institute—the Catholic organization that led the No campaign in Ireland—already conceded to the Yes vote.
Congratulations to the Yes side. Well done. #MarRef— David Quinn (@DavQuinn) May 23, 2015
People in Ireland are already starting to celebrate the victory with citizens flooding the streets to await results and celebrate marriage equality in a country that once voted against abortion and divorce.
Ireland hasn't just said "Yes"…— Aodhán Ó Ríordáin (@AodhanORiordain) May 23, 2015
Ireland has said:
“We’re the first country in the world to enshrine marriage equality in our constitution and do so by popular vote,” Leo Varadkar, Ireland’s health minister who announced he was gay earlier this year, said. “That makes us a beacon, a light to the rest of the world of liberty and equality. It’s a very proud day to be Irish.”
People from all over the world are starting to offer their congratulations to Ireland as well.
Congratulations Ireland! The journey the country has made during my lifetime leaves me so very proud, happy and amazed. Group hug!!!!— graham norton (@grahnort) May 23, 2015
Sitting here watching the Irish make history. Extraordinary and wonderful.— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) May 23, 2015
Wonderful news from Ireland this morning. New York City celebrates with you! #LoveWins— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) May 23, 2015
Here at #HayFestival – almost no signal but news in that Ireland’s Yes Campaign has carried the day. So so happy. Oscar smiles in his grave.— Stephen Fry (@stephenfry) May 23, 2015
According to John Lyons, an openly gay lawmaker in the Irish parliament, the victory was in part due to the young voters who campaigned and even flew home to vote.
“”Most of the young people I canvassed with have never knocked on a door in their lives,” he said. “This says something about modern Ireland. Let’s never underestimate the electorate or what they think.”
Update 11:46am CT, May 23: The referendum has passed.