Ireland Votes Overwhelmingly To Approve Same-Sex Marriage

May 23, 2015

Updated at 7:45 a.m. ET

Both sides in Ireland’s same-sex marriage debate have acknowledged that the “yes” vote has succeeded, making the country the first in the world to approve such a measure in a national referendum.

Leo Varadkar, Ireland’s health minister who came out as gay in January just as the campaign was getting underway, says Dublin appears to have voted 70 percent yes.

“We’re the first country in the world to enshrine marriage equality in our constitution and do so by popular mandate,” Varadkar said. “That makes us a beacon, a light to the rest of the world of liberty and equality. It’s a very proud day to be Irish.”

The head of the Iona Institute, which ran the No campaign in Ireland’s vote to legalize same-sex marriage, has tweeted his congratulations to the yes campaign.

Here’s the tweet from Iona Director David Quinn:

Some are interpreting this as conceding defeat, reports NPR correspondent Ari Shapiro.

Ari says that conservative areas that voted against legalizing divorce in the 1990s have come in with a Yes vote for same-sex marriage.

Counting of votes began Saturday on the question of whether the heavily Catholic country will amend its constitution to make same-sex marriage legal.

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