By a margin of nearly 2-to-1, Ireland becomes the first country on Earth to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote.
Around 9 a.m. Saturday morning, Ireland started to count votes for its historic referendum on same-sex marriage. While most polls conducted in the past few weeks looked favorable for gay marriage advocates (about 78 percent of polled voters supported legalization), tensions were high and the outcome, uncertain. Thousands of people flew into Ireland on Friday to vote before the polls closed. At 2 p.m. today, the results were announced: over 62 percent of the population voted in favor of the referendum, making Ireland the only country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage by popular vote.
It’s a huge development for a country that just 21 years ago, decriminalized sexual orientation. In 1998, Ireland passed The Employment Equality Act, which prohibited employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. While the United States allows marriage in some states, and has enacted anti-discrimination statutes in others, federal protections lag behind state laws.
Organized under the hashtag #HometoVote, thousands of people flew in to cast their votes in favor of the referendum, leading to a decisive 1,128,209 vote majority.