Contrary to many assumptions, the resounding referendum support cut across gender, geography, age, income and political affiliation, as the measure attracted support from Prime Minister Kenny, of center-right Fine Gael party, his Labour coalition partner, which had pushed for the referendum and opposition party Sinn Fein as well.
“The personal stories of people’s own testimonies, as to their difficulties growing up being gay certainly struck a chord with people.”
— Jim Walsh, an Irish senator who opposed the marriage referendum
“Today Ireland made history. In the privacy of the ballot box, the people made a public statement.”
— Prime Minister Enda Kenny
“Congratulations to the Yes side. Well done.”
— David Quinn, director of the Iona Institute, which congratulated the yes side for “a very professional campaign that in truth began long before the official campaign started.”
“This didn’t change Ireland — it confirmed the change. We can no longer be regarded as the authoritarian state we once might have been perceived to be. This marks the true separation of church and state.”
— Alex White, the government’s minister for communications
“There are two Irelands, the elite Ireland and the hidden Ireland. And today the hidden Ireland spoke.”
— Gerry Adams, president of Sinn Fein
The New York Times added this sober reflection from a non-dignitary:
Nick O’Connell, 42, who is from a rural area in County Kilkenny in the Irish Midlands, was cradling a celebratory drink in a Dublin bar, the Back Lounge. He said he had been too afraid to come out as gay until his mid-20s.Many Irish voters remembered the outrage which galvanized gay people, unions and other supporters after the suspended sentences of a group of thugs who murdered Declan Flynn in a Dublin Park 23 years ago.
“Today I’m thinking of all those young people over the years who were bullied and committed suicide because of their sexuality. This vote was for them, too.”