On May 22, the Republic of Ireland will be making a historical vote on the legalization of gay marriage. A poll from The Irish Times suggests more votes are in favor of the measure at 58 percent, while the opposed are at 25 percent and with 17 percent were undecided. If passed, the rights of gay married couples will be incorporated into the country’s constitution.
According to The Guardian, liberal Roman Catholic priests and nuns, such as the well-known Sister Stanislaus Kennedy, are defying their bishops by rallying for a yes vote, whereas an evangelical alliance are hoping that votes from 200,000 African and eastern European immigrants that are now Irish citizens—many of whom are conservative Christians and Muslims—could help assure that the vote doesn’t pass.
Kennedy, who is highly regarded for her work with the homeless and poor in Dublin, defied the Church by publicly backing the vote. “I have thought a lot about this. I am going to vote yes in recognition of the gay community as full members of society. They should have an entitlement to marry. It is a civil right and a human right,” she said. She also told The Irish Times, “I have a big commitment to equality for all members of society. It’s what my life has been about. We have discriminated against members of the gay and lesbian community for too long. This is a way of embracing them as full members of society.”
If the referendum passes, the Republic of Ireland will become the first country in the world to allow same-sex couples to marry via a popular vote. There are currently seventeen countries, including France, Iceland, Argentina and Belgium, that have introduced the legalization of gay marriage through the courts or by parliamentary vote.
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