Ireland has legalized same-sex marriage

Gay marriage is now legal in the Republic of Ireland. The law that went into effect today (Nov. 16) comes after the nation overwhelmingly voted yes on a referendum, becoming the first country to move to legalize same-sex marriage by popular vote.

The landmark move is notable in the heavily Catholic country; the Vatican criticized the gay marriage vote as a “defeat for humanity.” While the Catholic Church has been more welcoming of same-sex couples in recent years, its stance on gay marriage hasn’t changed—although Pope Francis’ public comments on the subject certainly have.

The non-compliance with Vatican doctrine speaks to a broader shift in Irish society: In 2012, 47% of Irish citizens described themselves as religious, down from 69% just seven years before that.

The new legislation impacts not just gay couples who are looking to get married, but also those who have already applied to register a civil partnership; those couples can now decide to convert their civil partnership application into a marriage application for the same date, the BBC reports.

Same-sex couples already in civil partnerships can choose to remain in one or get married, but the state will not accept new applications for civil partnerships.

home our picks popular latest obsessions search