On May 22, 2015, the Marriage Referendum saw Ireland become the first country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage through popular vote.
The path to marriage equality was incredibly emotional and challenging. Campaigners described the pain of debating with friends and family members over their sacred values and ideologies. But the victory was a powerful statement across Ireland and to the rest of the world. With a final vote of 62% in favour and 38% against, a republic once controlled by the doctrines of the Catholic church crossed into a new era representing a more liberal, secular society.
Today, we’re taking a look back at how the LGBTQ+ community responded to 1.2 million people in Ireland voting YES to the marriage referendum eight years ago.
A long journey completed – many players 🏳️🌈🇮🇪#MarriageEquality #MarRefMemories pic.twitter.com/pAwPsZQFd7
— Frances Fitzgerald MEP (@FitzgeraldFrncs) May 22, 2020
In 2015, LGBTQ+ activists organised a social media campaign encouraging young Irish citizens to return from abroad in time to cast their votes, and thousands of people travelled home from all corners of the world to do exactly that.
Ultimately, the high turnout among younger voters boosted the votes in favour of supporting marriage equality, and the #HomeToVote hashtag is full of incredibly moving and emotional memories.
Took a few days to get #hometovote from Nepal but getting job done with the family #VoteYes #MarRef #MakeGraTheLaw pic.twitter.com/v9Jhc4lXNL
— David Morrison (@davidmrsn) May 22, 2015
Irish citizens travelling home to vote in landmark gay marriage referendum have made #hometovote trend in Ireland pic.twitter.com/3GTVUD5na0
— Naomi O’Leary (@NaomiOhReally) May 21, 2015
The huge crowds of ppl flying home to Ireland to vote for marriage equality is like the climax of some feel-good Hollywood movie #hometovote
— A. E. Dooland ✍️📚🏳️🌈 (@Asynca) May 22, 2015
Best work of art on a current affairs theme in 2015
Easy.#HomeToVote by @anniewestdotcom
described us beautifully. pic.twitter.com/0MYn5EfhHN
— Cathal Mac Coille (@CathalMacCoille) December 31, 2015
While young people and LGBTQ+ activists were at the forefront of the social revolution campaign, an encouraging amount of voters from older generations who grew up in the traditionally conservative Catholic country voted in favour of marriage equality as well.
Those who campaigned have specific memories from the day of the vote, and the #MarRefMemories hashtag holds an incredibly powerful reminder of what was accomplished eight years ago.
My favourite #MarRefMemories photo is of my neighbours, sisters Priscilla & Patricia (RIP), going to vote Tá. When they asked us for the lift to the polling station ‘to vote for you two’ was my first real inkling that maybe we’d win the day … #makegráthelaw #tácomhionnanas pic.twitter.com/o69aM0MbMj
— Traolach (@TtohBee) May 22, 2020
results came. we walked into town in the blazing sunshine with @maryniloc wrapped in a pride flag. Strangers beeped their horns and stopped to hug us. Got my first tattoo. Bawled in the tattoo parlour. 5 years on, @maryniloc and I are engaged. What a joy. 💘#MarRefMemories pic.twitter.com/EjnIsEpAj6
— Molly King (@mollyk_ing_) May 23, 2020
There’s a double rainbow over Dublin today! It’s the perfect day for it 😁 #EqualityForAll #MakeGraTheLaw pic.twitter.com/PEzyiPLW0W
— Ciara (@Three_words_Ox) May 23, 2015
So many #MarRefMemories and emotions flowing today! We did it, and we did together 🇮🇪🏳️🌈🇮🇪 #makegrathelaw #Ireland #yesequality pic.twitter.com/7WHhY0Se1I
— Rachel Mathews-McKay she/her #blm (@RAMathewsMckay) May 22, 2020
To commemorate the 5th anniversary of the Marriage Equality referendum in 2020, while the country was experiencing the first Covid-19 lockdown, GCN streamed a special online event hosted by Una Mullally. The event was incredibly meaningful and connecting during a time of so much uncertainty.
The live-streamed event included interviews with special guests who were at the forefront of the battle for equal rights. It also featured musical guests and heartfelt stories from leaders in Ireland who were instrumental in the marriage equality campaign.
We still have a lot of work to do when it comes to LGBTQ+ rights, especially for ensuring the safety and protection of the trans community. Still, eight years later, we’re thankful for this victory and the work of activists and allies to creat a more equal Irish society for LGBTQ+ people.
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