Ireland has voted resoundingly to legalize gay marriage in the world’s first national vote on the issue, leaders on both sides of the Irish referendum declared Saturday even as official ballot counting continued.
“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. So it’s a very proud day to be Irish,” said Leo Varadkar, a Cabinet minister who came out as gay at the start of a government-led effort to amend Ireland’s conservative Catholic constitution.
Varadkar, who personally watched the votes being tabulated at the County Dublin ballot center, said the Irish capital looks to have voted around 70% in favor of gay marriage, while most districts outside the capital also were reporting strong “yes” leads. He said not a single district yet had reported a “no” majority. Official results come later Saturday.