You will no doubt have seen the headlines. The news propelled Ireland to the front pages across the globe. In what is regarded at home and abroad as a dramatic statement about Ireland today, the same-sex marriage referendum was endorsed 62:38 and in 43 out of 44 constituencies.
Crowds gathered and celebrated in a festive atmosphere in and around Dublin Castle’s spacious courtyard. All through that sunny Saturday the vote count confirmed something seismic was happening. Social media soon flooded with images of the emotional cord struck by this outcome, perhaps summed up as acceptance and pride.
In short, gay pride became Irish pride as Ireland took a leading global position on gay rights, equality and tolerance.
And I think that it is not hyperbolic to consider this outcome historic (see my short blog on this last Saturday).
One of the most charming comments was from the leader of the Scottish National Party, Nicola Sturgeon: “I bet there will be a few marriage proposals in the pubs of Dublin tonight. What a lovely thought. Enjoy the celebrations, Ireland.”
At the other end of the spectrum, the Archbishop of Dublin Micheal Martin stood robed in red with his tall white hat and said ruefully to children about to be confirmed as Catholics, “Boys and girls, I made my confirmation sixty years ago. Your world is different from mine.” (This is quoted in Danny Hakim’s New York Times’s front page report here. His report usefully sums up the historic context and the many battles that have way marked Saturday’s result.)
UNSG Ban Ki-moon, in Ireland to receive the Tipperary International Peace Award, hailed the outcome: “This is truly an historic moment. Ireland has become the first country in the world to approve marriage equality in a nationwide referendum. The result sends an important message to the world; all people are entitled to enjoy their human rights and human dignity, no matter whom they are or whom they love.”
I would recommend reading his full speech accepting the award here. It eloquently captures Ireland’s diplomatic engagement on global issues as seen by the UN Secretary General: our leading role on NPT, our contribution to the UN and UN Peacekeeping, our overseas development programme, leadership on human rights, and the inspiration provided by the Northern Ireland peace process.