DUBLIN — Ireland became the first country Saturday to legalize same-sex marriage by national referendum, a vote that has highlighted the dramatic pace at which this traditionally conservative Catholic nation has changed in recent times.Just 22 years after decriminalizing homosexuality, more than 60% of voters approved the measure, with just three of the 43 constituencies left to declare results Saturday afternoon, state broadcaster RTE said.
Electoral officers reported an unusually high number of people showed up for Friday's vote. National turnout was slightly more than 60% with just a few voting regions left to hand in results, according to the Ireland's referendum commission."We're the first country in the world to enshrine marriage equality in our constitution and do so by popular mandate," Leo Varadkar, Ireland's health minister, told RTE before results came in. "That makes us a beacon, a light to the rest of the world of liberty and equality. It's a very proud day to be Irish," he said.