Saturday, May 23, 2015


Ireland voted on a constitutional referendum on whether the age of eligibility for presidential candidates should be lowered from 35 to 21. It was defeated with 73% voting no.

No, wait, that isn't the news you care about.

The other referendum on the ballot was whether the constitution should be amended with this text: "Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex." That one passed by 62%! This is a big deal for several reasons.

The yes side was ahead in all districts but one. That means even most rural districts voted for marriage equality.

Ireland is only the 20th country to approve same-sex marriage.

Ireland did it through a popular vote, not legislative action or court order, the first country to do so. This was done as a change to the constitution, which had to be done through a vote, even though many think we shouldn't vote on rights. But it means it cannot be undone, except by another vote.

Turnout was about 60%, quite high for Ireland. There were lines on the last day to register to vote. There was a big effort by expatriates to return to Ireland for the vote, see Twitter tag #hometovote.

Ireland is much more Catholic and much more religious than the rest of Europe. Of course, the Catholic church was heavily involved in the No campaign. This defeat is a sign the Church's hold on the country is dwindling.

Those on the No side conceded defeat graciously, some within an hour of the start of vote counting. Not so gracious was Brian Brown, the American leader of the National Organization for Marriage (theirs, not yours). He also got the size of the No vote wrong. Irish vote counting seems a bit more civilized than what is done in America. They don't start counting until 9:00 the next morning. No need to stay up all night waiting for returns and results.

Next comes the writing and approval of a Marriage Act, which should happen in July. The law would be go into effect in August or September. Irish laws apparently must have a 3-month notice period. That means the first same-sex weddings will happen near Christmas.

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