Ireland became the first country Saturday to legalize same-sex marriage by national referendum, a result that highlights the dramatic pace at which this traditionally conservative Catholic nation has changed in recent times. Just 22 years after decriminalizing homosexuality, 62.1% of voters approved the measure changing the nation’s constitution to allow gay marriage, according to official results by Ireland’s referendum commission. National turnout in Friday’s poll was 60.5% of 3.2 million eligible voters.
“With today’s vote we have disclosed who we are: a generous, compassionate, bold and joyful people,” Prime Minister Enda Kenny said, welcoming the outcome Saturday, according to the Associated Press. Emily Neenan, a physics student at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, was holding a large rainbow-colored umbrella in the forecourt at Dublin Castle, where “Yes” supporters gathered to celebrate outside the Irish government complex. “I am absolutely thrilled and I didn’t think it would pass with such a resounding yes,” she said. “Even in more traditional rural areas, it looks like we have done a lot better than we thought we would.” FULL REPORT