So there it was! on Saturday .. Ireland became the world’s first country to vote for and approve same-sex unions* by referendum. 62% of voters said yes.
*Same-sex ‘civil partnerships’ were introduced in Ireland in 2010, but advocates for marriage equality said those fell short of the recognition and protections afforded by civil marriage.
The New York Times writes that in 1979, more than 1 million people turned out for Pope John Paul II’s visit to Dublin, a staggering crowd for a country with a population of just 3.4 million at the time. Looking back, that may have been the high point of the Catholic Church’s influence. A a tide of child sexual abuse scandals destroyed the church’s credibility in the whole area of sexuality, says Tony Flannery, a priest who was suspended in 2012 for criticizing the church’s views on women and homosexuality. It should be noted, though, that Ireland is not entirely beyond contentious cultural battles : abortion is still illegal (except if the mother’s life is in danger).