Ireland - with 62 percent of the voters in favor, and winning in 42 of 43 districts - became the first country to deem by popular vote that gays have a right to marry:
"Today Ireland has made history - the first country in the world to vote for equal marriage," Prime Minister Enda Kenny told reporters.
"With today's vote we have disclosed who we are: a generous, compassionate, bold and joyful people. Yes to inclusion, yes to generosity, yes to love, yes to equal marriage," he said.
The voter turnout was 60 percent - much higher than in other recent referendums.
This is huge because it's proving that most people do not want to go out of their way to discriminate or hate upon a significant minority within their own nation. This is the first time a nation opened up to equal rights to getting married - a major cultural, economic, and legal right - by the will of the people rather than a legislative or judicial decree.
This is what being Pro-People looks like.
This is huge because Ireland is famously - almost notoriously - Catholic in their religious faith. The power and sway of the Catholic Church and the papacy (used to be) greater here than in most other nations (including Italy where the Church originated and still houses its seat of power). Ireland infamously has one of the harshest anti-abortion restrictions in all of Europe, and it only decriminalized homosexuality itself merely 23 years ago.
In theory and in practice the Catholic Church opposes homosexuality, one of several "conservative" Christian faiths to argue the sin of it. However, regarding this vote, the Church itself remained oddly silent except for a handful of Bishops coming out late in opposition to it. The power of the Church had dropped in the wake of sex abuse scandals... and there are signs the current Pope has shifted the dynamics of the Church towards social justice...
So maybe Francis has lightened up.
This is huge because the Irish vote was not only a sizable majority of available voters, and because the vote itself was a solid majority, the polling numbers suggested this wasn't a generational issue. Whereas the younger voters will trend liberal-leaning (read: open-minded), older voters tend not to. Except they didn't: polling showed "the support cut across age and gender, geography and income..."
This is huge because it shows to the rest of the world we don't have to hate or discriminate on the basis of our "fears", that we don't have the excuse of religion or faith to discriminate.
This is huge because the more other nations show us that allowing gay marriage does not mean the end of the world, the easier it will get in this "Land of the Free and Home of the Brave" to open up to gay marriage across all states. Here, it's happening mostly by judicial decision and court order, and yet we're still getting politicians and conservative religious leaders standing up screaming "family values" and "religious liberty" as excuses to hate.
There are no other arguments against gay marriage. The argument against being gay relies entirely on passages of the Hebrew (Leviticus is prominently mentioned) and Christian Testaments (Romans and other Pauline letters). There are no scientific arguments against gay, where biology and psychology over the decades has revealed reasons why being gay happens (homosexuality is not a choice), and that being gay isn't really special it's just...a thing.
This is huge because more people are refusing to use religion as an excuse to hate. Because more people are seeing the hypocrisy of religious leaders railing against gays using Leviticus while allowing EVERYTHING else banned in Leviticus and the Bible to happen.
This is huge, having more people being Pro-People.