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Irish voters legalize same-sex marriage


Dublin, Ireland (CNN)Same-sex couples will soon be able to walk down the aisle in the Emerald Isle.
Voters in Ireland overwhelmingly chose to change their nation's constitution Friday, becoming the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage through popular vote.
The official results were announced Saturday at a Dublin Castle press conference: 1,201,607 voted in favor of the landmark referendum, while 734,300 voted against it, said Ríona Ní Fhlanghaile, an elections official.
Voter turnout in the majority Catholic nation was more than 60%, according to Fhlanghaile.
Despite speculation in the run-up that opposition to the measure might have been understated because people were too shy to tell pollsters that they planned to vote "no" -- the outcome was lopsided, with the measure passing by just over 61% of the total vote cast.
    Once the votes began to be tallied, the result was never in doubt.
    Only one of the country's 43 parliamentary constituencies failed to pass it.

    Support from Ireland's political leaders

    As is the case in many other countries around the world, the issue is a polarizing one in Ireland, a country that didn't decriminalize homosexuality until the 1990s.
    This referendum was seen as a test of whether more liberal thinking can trump Ireland's traditionally conservative, Catholic leanings.
    The "yes" campaign enjoyed considerable support from the country's political establishment.
    Prime Minister Enda Kenny said prior to the vote that the country could "create history" and that a "yes" vote would "obliterate" prejudice along with irrational fears of difference. On Saturday, Kenny said the outcome "disclosed who we are -- a generous, compassionate, bold and joyful people."
    "In Ireland, we're known as a nation of storytellers," added Deputy Prime Minister Joan Burton. "And today, the people have told quite some story. This is a magical, moving moment."
    Gerry Adams, leader of the Sinn Fein political party, called it "a huge day for equality," and over the border in Northern Ireland -- the only part of the United Kingdom where same-sex marriage is still prohibited -- Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness hoped they'll take notice.
    "The world is moving on and Ireland is taking the lead," said McGuinness. "Politicians, particularly in the north need to reflect on this progress."
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