At first blush, one might not expect to find an international breakthrough on gay rights in Ireland. The country is overwhelmingly Catholic, for example, and has a sizable population.
But on the issue of marriage equality, the Emerald Isle has set an example for the rest of the world to follow. NBC News’ Lisa McNally reported over the holiday weekend:
Ireland became the first country in the world to vote in favor of legalizing gay marriage Saturday after a resounding victory for “Yes” campaigners.At final count, 62% voted in favor of legalizing gay marriage in the country, while 38% voted against it.
The point isn’t that Ireland is the first country to embrace equal marriage rights; it’s not. Rather, the significance is how and by what margin Irish voters endorsed the new policy.
Around the world, marriage equality arrives through one of three options: judicial rulings, legislation, or popular referendum. As of a few days ago, no nation had ever successfully pursued that third option – until the Irish made their voices heard.
What’s more, it wasn’t close. The results would still count had it been a 51%-49% squeaker, but the fact that the progressive approach won by a landslide ends the debate with an emphatic exclamation point.
The world, not surprisingly, took note, and Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton praised the Irish vote on Saturday via social media.