Fintan O’Toole, The New York Times, May 18, 2015


he referendum on same-sex marriage has been on every street corner in Ireland. There has been widespread popular enthusiasm for the “yes” cause, especially from the youth. Because Ireland does not allow its citizens to vote from abroad, many young people traveled back home to make this historic vote on May 22nd. But it’s not only the youth that supported marriage equality –every public survey consistently showed that more than 70% of citizens favored the Government’s proposal to add the following line to the Irish Constitution: “Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.” Although Irish referendums have had a History of surprise results, odds were that citizens would embrace marriage equality. This made Ireland the first country in the world to grant same-sex couples full legal equality by direct popular vote. Ironically, Ireland was one of the last Western nations to decriminalize homosexuality in 1993. The rapid change in attitude of the country’s citizens towards same-sex marriage can be attributed to two circumstances: first, that the Catholic church’s arrogance has resulted in a catastrophic series of scandals, leading to a collapse of its moral authority and resulting influence; and secondly, that the Irish family is an extremely close-knit force that wants its children to be able to marry, no matter their partner’s gender. The former President of Ireland, and a devout Roman Catholic, Mary McAleese joined her son (who is gay) in calling for a “yes” vote because she wanted “the children of the nation to be cherished equally.” And, in Ireland, standing between mothers and what they want for their children is not a comfortable place for the opposition to be.

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