Ireland: ‘We are a generous, compassionate, bold and joyful people who say yes’

Ireland: ‘We are a generous, compassionate, bold and joyful people who say yes’ May 23, 2015

Ireland overwhelmingly says Yes.”

The official result for the marriage equality referendum was declared at Dublin Castle shortly before 7pm this evening, with the final tally ending up 62.1 percent Yes against 37.9 percent No.

yes-equalityIn total, almost two million people voted.

The number of Yes votes cast was 1,201,607, with 734,300 No. …

Over all, the Yes vote secured a 467,307 majority.

Large crowds have gathered at Dublin Castle to celebrate the resounding Yes.

Speaking after the official result was announced, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said Ireland had made history today. “Our people have truly answered Ireland’s call… we have made history.”

Adding: “Those who voted no did so due to genuine held views which should be respected.”

Meanwhile, Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin called the Yes result a “reality check” for the Catholic Church in Ireland.

“I think it’s a social revolution. It’s a social revolution that didn’t begin today, it’s a social revolution that’s been going on, and perhaps people in the church have not been clear in their understanding of what that involves,” he said.

Well, yeah. Perhaps not, Fr. Martin. Good of you to notice.

This wasn’t just some urban elite vote, either — the results were the same throughout the country.

Ireland becomes first country to legalise gay marriage by popular vote

Ireland has voted by a huge majority to legalise same-sex marriage, becoming the first country in the world to do so by popular vote in a move hailed as a social revolution and welcomed around the world.

Some 62 percent of the Irish Republic’s electorate voted in favour of gay marriage. The result means that a republic once dominated by the Catholic church ignored the instructions of its cardinals and bishops. The huge Yes vote marks another milestone in Ireland’s journey towards a more liberal, secular society.

Out of an electorate of more than 3 million, 1,201,607 backed gay marriage, while 734,300 voters said No. The result prompted a massive street party around the gay district of central Dublin close to the national count centre.

Directly addressing Ireland’s gay community, taoiseach Enda Kenny said the result meant that “a majority of people in this republic have stood up for them [those in the gay community]”. He said: “In the privacy of the ballot box, the people made a public statement. With today’s vote we have disclosed who we are. We are a generous, compassionate, bold and joyful people who say yes to inclusion, yes to generosity, yes to love, yes to gay marriage.”

Irish deputy prime minister and Labour leader Joan Burton added: “The people of Ireland have struck a massive blow against discrimination.”

And quoting the late American politician and LGBT rights activist Harvey Milk, she said: “Hope will never be silent.”

Specifically, this was a vote to amend Ireland’s constitution to enshrine within it the same rights for minorities that the majority enjoys. Or, to say the same thing another way, it was a vote to amend the constitution to make it a constitution. That’s the whole point of a constitution, after all — to ensure that the law is the law for everybody, not just for the powerful. A constitution that claims to give rights to the majority but not to minorities isn’t a constitution at all — just a chalkboard and a pretense.

That’s why those trying to make a big deal out of the fact that the Irish Republic voted to amend its constitution somehow differs from what’s happening here in America, where the courts are finding that marriage equality for same-sex couples is already constitutional. America legalized same-sex marriage by popular vote in the 1860s — it just took our courts more than a century to acknowledge that fact.

Or, as Rachel Maddow put it, “Here’s the thing about rights. They’re not actually supposed to be voted on. That’s why they’re called rights.”

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