Rainbow at the End of the Rainbow: Ireland Legalizes Gay Marriage
by Caleb Rhodes on Friday, June 5th, 2015
On May 22, 2015, the Irish voted to allow same-sex marriage in Ireland. 62.7 % of voters supported this new change, well above the 50% required to ratify the new 34th amendment to the Irish Constitution. This amendment, according to US News, states that “Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.”
This landmark vote is a huge victory for gay rights proponents. Ireland is a deeply Catholic nation, and its original constitution from 1937 reflected more conservative Christian values that were largely against samesex marriage. Homosexuality was decriminalized in 1993; this vote was only one of the huge strides that Ireland has taken in accepting the LGBTQ community. In fact, as reported by the New York Times, Ireland is the first nation to legalize same-sex marriage by means of a popular vote. This method represents a huge departure from the conventions of amendment legalization through legislation and the judicial system. In the process, according to Freedom To Marry, an organization that advocates for the rights of same-sex couples, Ireland is the 19th country to legalize same sex marriage, following its neighbor the United Kingdom, a country that legalized gay marriage in 2013. Of the 19 nations, only 6 are outside of Europe. The United States does not make the list, since same-sex marriage is only lawful on a stateby-state basis.
Campaigners for ratification targeted as wide a demographic as possible and painted marriage equality as a fundamental right for anyone in love. Some Catholic bishops, as well as the Iona Institute, an Irish Catholic advocacy group, opposed the amendment. Their argument was that same-sex marriage would hurt the validity of unions between man and woman. They also highlighted the reproductive purposes of marriage, according to the New York Times.
In the wake of this amendment’s approval, the large majority of the public agreed on the magnitude of this change. Having received major pushback from a nation of devoted Catholics, the Catholic church reeled. Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin described the aftermath as “a social revolution,” and said, “the church needs to do a reality check right across the board.” Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny basked in the moment, proclaiming proudly, “With today’s vote, we have disclosed who we are: a generous, compassionate, bold and joyful people.”
In the United States, 37 states, as well as Washington D.C., currently recognize same-sex marriage, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. While, from a legal perspective, the majority of the US supports gay marriage, such recognition has not yet made it to the federal level. The Supreme Court, after hearing arguments in April and once again in June, will soon make a decision on whether states are constitutionally allowed to prohibit same-sex marriage, and whether states have to recognize same-sex marriages performed legally in another state.
Lyla Bonaccorso-Nulisch (II), the head of Milton’s GASP (Gender and Sexuality Perspectives) organization, was very pleased with the recent amendment. She said, “A popular vote is a positive way of approving same-sex marriage because when it comes to an issue like same-sex relationships, I believe it spreads across all demographics.”
Short URL: http://miltonmeasure.org/?p=7168