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A fellow named Danny Smith posted a street scene of Dublin on Twitter late afternoon on Saturday. In the background was a glimpse of that celestial phenomenon that appears after a storm, at the other end of which, it is said, there’s a pot of gold.
"There’s a big gay rainbow over Dublin," Smith tweeted. "If that’s not Jesus giving the Yes vote I don’t know what is."
Danny Boy can be forgiven for his hyperbole. Though his Twitter page identifies him as being a resident of Manchester, England, he’s joining in the enthusiasm being demonstrated in streets, squares and pubs throughout Ireland—and on social media.
The Yes vote has triumphed, making the Republic of Ireland the first nation in the world to open the institution of marriage through a plebiscite, not an act of a legislature or a court ruling, to members of the same sex. The New York Times reports:
With ballots from 34 out of the 43 voting areas counted, the vote was almost two to one in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage. All but one of the districts that were counted voted yes, and it appeared to be statistically impossible for opposition votes to overcome the ayes.
Turnout was large — more than 60 percent of the 3.2 million people eligible to vote cast ballots. Government officials, advocates and even those who had argued against the measure said that the outcome was a resounding endorsement of the constitutional amendment.
Earlier in the day, as poll workers continued to tabulate ballots late Saturday morning, David Quinn, director of the Iona Institute, who was in the forefront of the opposition, tweeted: “Congratulations to the Yes side. Well done.”
There were no rainbows on Quinn’s page—nor any rainbows for him. Much of the response to his congratualatory tweet was filled with vitrol:
“Yeah…whatever. You make me sick,” said one Denis Coakley.
“You were far from gracious during your poisonous, ill-constructed campaign,” added Niall McGarry.
“Well-done indeed, in spite of your obfuscation, homophobia, lies, etc.” was the rejoinder of a tweeter called Thailand thoughts. “Now accept that Ireland has left you and your like behind.”
One Twitter denizen, with the moniker Baba Yaga, simply shot back, “Eat it.”
Another tweet is unprintable in this family-friendly forum.
Commenting on the outcome, Quinn said in a press release, "We believe [we] fought a good campaign. It was always going to be an uphill battle. However, we helped to provide a voice to the hundreds of thousands of Irish people who did vote No. The fact that no political party supported them must be a concern from a democratic point of view. Going forward, we will continue to affirm the importance of the biological ties and of motherhood and fatherhood. We hope the Government will address the concerns voters on the No side have about the implications for freedom of religion and freedom of conscience.’”
The Times provided some background on the vote and its effect:
The referendum changes Ireland’s Constitution so that civil marriages between two people is now legal “without distinction as to their sex.” It requires ratification by both houses of the Irish Parliament and the president. Though that is a formality, the date when gay and lesbian couples can marry will be determined in that process.
Vatican Radio noted how, in hindsight, it was going to be tough going for those defending marriage against redefinition:
It was always going to be an uphill struggle for those who spoke out against same-sex marriage. Every political party supported change and there was virtual unanimity amongst the media in pushing for a ‘yes’. One eve-of-poll survey found that of the ten main newspapers, there were three times as many articles pushing a ‘yes’ vote as advocating a ‘no’ vote.
Vatican Radio also noted how the country’s bishops had engaged in a relatively low-key campaign largely restricted to the reading of pastoral letters at Masses in parishes.
The Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, took to the airwaves pointing to the reasons why he was voting ‘no’, namely because of his belief that marriage is a unique institution involving one man and one woman.
The Archbishop, however, stopped short of telling Catholics how they should vote, pointedly saying "those days are gone"—a reference to a time when the Irish Catholic hierarchy frequently instructed Mass-goers on how they should vote.
The Times too noted the broad support for the measure coming from the the likes of Prime Minister Enda Kenny of the center-right Fine Gael party, his Labour coalition partner, and Sinn Fein, an opposition party. Gerry Adams, president of Sinn Fein, said, “There are two Irelands, the elite Ireland and the hidden Ireland. And today the hidden Ireland spoke.”
Kenny said that Catholic schools will be required to teach same-sex "marriage" as part of the curriculum, Vatican Radio noted—just one concern that was expressed about the impact on religious freedom.