Ireland Votes Overwhelmingly To Approve Same-Sex Marriage

Ireland Votes Overwhelmingly To Approve Same-Sex Marriage

9:29am May 26, 2015
Drag queen and gay rights activist Rory O'Neill, also known by the stage name, Panti, celebrates with supporters of same-sex marriage at Dublin Castle as they await the result of the referendum on Saturday.
Drag queen and gay rights activist Rory O'Neill, also known by the stage name, Panti, celebrates with supporters of same-sex marriage at Dublin Castle as they await the result of the referendum on Saturday.
Paul Faith / AFP/Getty Images

Updated at 2:25 p.m. ET

Ireland has become the first-ever country to approve same-sex marriage by referendum, voting overwhelmingly to approve it despite opposition from clergy in the heavily Catholic nation, according to official results announced today.

Reuters says in Friday's vote "more than 60 percent of eligible voters cast their ballot, the highest turnout at a referendum there in over two decades."

Earlier, both sides in the debate acknowledged that the "yes" vote had succeeded.

Leo Varadkar, Ireland's health minister who came out as gay in January just as the campaign was getting underway, said Dublin appeared to have voted 70 percent in favor of the measure.

"We're the first country in the world to enshrine marriage equality in our constitution and do so by popular mandate," Varadkar 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."

NPR's Ari Shapiro, speaking with Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon, says that although Ireland is a predominately Catholic country and many clergy urged a no vote, "the Church has had a lot of scandals" in recent years. Without a doubt, he says, the Church is "one of the losers in this vote."

The head of the Iona Institute, which ran the No campaign in Ireland's vote to legalize same-sex marriage, has tweeted his congratulations to the yes campaign.

Here's the tweet from Iona Director David Quinn:

Ari says that conservative areas that voted against legalizing divorce in the 1990s have come in with a Yes vote for same-sex marriage.

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