Yes! Same-Sex Marriage and History-Making in Ireland
Elections Series #4 of 4. On May 24, 2015, Ireland became the first country in the world to codify marriage equality through a popular vote. Significantly, the popular vote enacted a constitutional amendment, adding protection for two adult’s right to marry regardless of sex or gender. In a country that only just decriminalized same-sex sex in 1993, this turn of events might be surprising. 61% of eligible Irish voters voted. 62% of those voters said Yes, to approve the referendum amending the constitution. Members of the main mobilizing campaign--the “Yes Equality” campaign that advocated for the amendment--credit their success to a strong social media movement, the mobilization of real people’s stories, and a non-confrontational high-road approach in comparison with the No campaigners. The leaders of Yes Equality, Grainne Healy, Brian Sheehan, and Noel Whelan, also insist that Ireland was just ready to accept gay and lesbian Irish people as equals, evidenced by the smashing success of a 62% victory. The 2015 referendum was absolutely a major milestone in Irish gay and lesbian history. Whether or not it signaled Ireland’s definitive acceptance of queer Irish people as “equal” is less clear.
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Brian Lacey, Terrible Queer Creatures
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Elizabeth O’Connor, “Discourse, performativity and the Irish marriage equality referendum debate,” Empedocles: European Journal for the Philosophy of Communication, vol. 8 no. 1, 81-93.
Sonja Tiernan, The History of Marriage Equality in Ireland: A Social Revolution Begins. (Manchester University Press, 2020)
Brian Tobin, “Marriage Equality in Ireland: The Politico-Legal Context,” 30 Int'l J.L. Pol. & Fam. 115 (2016), 115-130.
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