Ireland makes history as first country to vote for marriage equality nation-wide

The votes have been cast and marriage equality is now the law of the land in Ireland. According to the Associated Press, after historically high voter turnout, Irish voters approved a nation-wide referendum that added the following language to the constitution: "marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex."

"This is a joyous day for Ireland and for LGBT people and our allies everywhere," said GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. "With this historic vote, Ireland becomes a leader in the global effort for LGBT equality. We are thankful for the leadership of the Irish people, and we hope that many countries, including the United States, follow suit by extending marriage to all their citizens."

The vote makes Ireland the first country to pass marriage equality in a nation-wide referendum. GLAAD worked with the YesEquality campaign, providing the best practices from the marriage equality referenda in the United States, to encourage Irish people to vote in favor of marriage equality.

GLAAD's President and CEO, Sarah Kate Ellis, also contributed a video to the #VoteWithUs campaign, highlighting her Irish heritage and calling on Ireland to be a global leader in marriage equality. The National Library of Ireland will include the whole collection of the #VoteWithUs campaign in their archive on the 2015 Marriage Referendum. 

Additionally, celebrities like Sir Ian McKellen, Colin Farrell, George Takei, Macklemore and Stephen Fry voiced their support, sharing videos, graphics and tweets, encouraging their fans in Ireland to vote yes on Friday. Other celebrities tweeted out congratulations as the votes came in.

David Quinn, an anti-LGBT activists with the Iona Institute, told Irish broadcaster RTE it was "obviously a very impressive victory for the 'Yes' side." The Iona Institute conceded , noting that the yes side was a landslide.

Irish Senator David Norris praised all the Irish Citizens who returned home to cast their vote. You can see a beautiful collection of people traveling back to Ireland under the hash tag #HomeToVote.

There has been a great transformation in the status of LGBT people in Ireland over the past two decades. 21 years ago the law reform decriminalized gay people. That was followed by equality legislation which ensured that people could not be discriminated against in employment on the basis of their sexual orientation. This step puts Ireland ahead of the United States, and with only 18 other countries that have full marriage equality.