With 60 percent turn-out, the vote was almost two for one in favor of marriage equality. It passed with 60.2 percent of the vote.
The ballot referendum eliminates language in the country’s constitution restricting marriage to a man and woman.
Early votes and late polls indicated a comfortable victory, but nothing like what the proponents of the measure expected. David Quinn, the leader of the opposition, conceded via Twitter as early returns came in: “Congratulations to the Yes side. Well done.”
Observers hailed it as a global victory. Until now, marriage equality has only been handed down via judicial rulings or through legislation. The vote also shows a shift among residents of the historically socially conservative and rural country with deep ties to the Catholic Church.
“I think this is a moment that rebrands Ireland to a lot of folks around the world as a country not stuck in tradition but that has an inclusive tradition,” Ty Cobb, the international director of the Human Rights Campaign, told the New York Times.
Ireland joins 20 other countries and 37 American states in recognizing marriage equality. The U.S. Supreme Court expected to rule in favor of equality at the end of June.