Ireland votes to legalize same-sex marriage

Ireland votes to legalize same-sex marriage
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Ireland became the first country in the world to vote to legalize same-sex marriage, with a nationwide referendum passing on Saturday by an overwhelming margin.

With 40 of 43 constituencies reporting, 62 percent of voters approved the measure and 38 percent voted no, according to Ireland’s RTÉ News.

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“I’m calling it,” Minister of State for Equality Aodhán Ó Ríordáin tweeted Saturday. "Key boxes opened. It's a yes. And a landslide across Dublin. And I'm so proud to be Irish today.”

"There is going to be a very substantial majority for a yes vote. I'm not at all surprised by that to be honest with you," said Irish Sen. Ronan Mullen, one of a small group of politicians who opposed the referendum, according to the Associated Press.

The referendum changed Ireland’s constitution to allow two people of the same sex to marry.

The vote is a major victory for gay-rights advocates and represents a significant shift for the predominantly Catholic nation. Homosexuality was decriminalized in Ireland just 22 years ago.

Other nations in Europe have legalized same-sex marriage through legislation, but no country has ever done it by popular vote.

Opponents of the measure gave its credit supporters for mobilizing young, first time voters through social media engagement.

"Most of the young people I canvassed with have never knocked on a door in their lives," said John Lyons Lyons, an openly-gay member of parliament, according to the AP.