Though the official tally is still being taken, it appears that Ireland has voted overwhelmingly in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage, the Associated Press reports. Leaders from both sides of the debate have said that the “Yes” voters won—the only thing left to determine is by how much.
“We’re the first country in the world to enshrine marriage equality in our constitution and do so by popular mandate. That makes us a beacon, a light to the rest of the world of liberty and equality,” Leo Varadkhar, a Cabinet minister who came out at the beginning of the campaign, told the AP. “So it’s a very proud day to be Irish.”
“Obviously there’s a certain amount of disappointment, but I’m philosophical about the outcome,” David Quinn of the Iona Institute, a Catholic group that campaigned against same-sex marriage, told RTE. But there was nothing to be done about what was “obviously a very impressive victory for the ‘yes’ side.”
The vote legalize same-sex marriage comes barely more than 20 years after Ireland decriminalized homosexuality, in 1993. David Norris, an Irish senator who led that campaign, said he was pleasantly surprised by the level of support for the referendum.
“It was wonderful the vote was so overwhelming,” Norris told the New York Times. “The straight people of Ireland have said welcome to the Irish family. This should be a template for the rest of the world.”