Ireland Sends a Message to the World

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IN A NATIONAL REFERENDUM on May 22, Ireland became the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage, not by judicial or legislative action, but by a popular vote. How did a country long assumed to be a conservative Catholic stronghold, which only decriminalized homosexuality in 1993, become the first to take this course of action?

At final count, the vote was 62 to 38 percent in favor of marriage equality, a spread of almost 25 points. As surprising as the magnitude of the result was the breadth and depth of the vote,

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Ed Madden is director of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program and associate professor of English at the University of South Carolina.

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