Same-Sex Marriage by Referendum

Ireland becomes the first country to legalize same-sex marriage by popular vote.

By Saffron Sener | Arts and Entertainment Editor

June 4, 2015

Now legal in 20 countries, the country of Ireland voted to legalize same-sex marriage on May 23rd. Ireland was the first country to do this by referendum, or popular vote. With 1,201,607 people voting in favor of same-sex marriage compared to 734,300 people saying no, this vote was a landslide.

Ireland decriminalized homosexuality in 1993, and due to a lessening influence from the Roman Catholic Church on government affairs and education since then, this referendum became a reality. People of all ages came forward to support the vote, including older citizens who clearly remember the days wherein their sexuality was a crime. Now, with the ability to marry, many feel as if they can put those days behind them.

Nick O’Connell of Dublin, Ireland, commented, “Today I’m thinking of all those young people over the years who were bullied and committed suicide because of their sexuality. This vote was for them, too.”

Furthermore, this referendum has inspired protests in Germany, where the subject had been shelved after the allowance of same-sex civil unions. Many German citizens demand the legalization of same-sex marriage, in replacement of civil unions. Countless vehement protests and demonstrations following the Irish vote led to the German government allowing more rights to couples in civil unions. Without legalizing marriage itself, the German government granted tax status and the ability to adopt as a married couple to people in same-sex civil unions.

However, Cardinal Pietro Parolin of the Vatican has denounced the referendum. Calling this a “defeat for humanity,” he noted the Church’s lack of power and consistency in Ireland. He plans to reestablish the Church’s influence in not only Ireland, but throughout Europe. His main goal, he explains, is that “the family remains at the center, and we…do everything to defend it and promote it.”

A great victory for the country of Ireland, this referendum proves the country’s progress although being a strong Catholic power. Inspiring to people across the world, the vote is a huge achievement for LGBT movements. Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny commented, “Today Ireland made history, in the privacy of the ballot box, the people made a public statement.”

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