County Tipperary, County Clare, Cork, Limerick, Donegal, Killarney, Shannon—all these places associated with romance, legend, tragedy, literature…… I was about to put up a short text about the people that we have met or have heard on the radio since we arrived—polite, respectful, gentle, soft spoken—when the news came down. Yesterday, the people of Ireland turned out in record numbers to vote on the Constitutional amendment referendum to authorize/legalize gay marriage. We have been listening to the debate on the radio all week. Even as the opponents continuously brought up red herring issues (e.g., impact on children, “what’ll they want next?”, “why can’t gays just accept their second class status?) and the Catholic church rolled out their unsupportable positions thrown down from the pulpit, the radio dialogue, young and old, church-going and not, etc., the people remained respectful and polite—unlike the trash that passes for news coverage in the US. Today, as the vote counting is completing for the record turn out, it is clear that Ireland has become the leader—the first nation on the planet– to pass by popular referendum AND by a large majority a measure to bring gay people one step closer to being full citizens. And the talk on the radio remains positive, civil, and accepting that Ireland has made this happen. The debate leading up to yesterday was interesting. While the opposition rolled out the historic lame arguments to say “no” adding the argument that it would be anti-government, the “yes” argument(s) did not go for the bait that would have let the campaign be swallowed up in some argument about religion, etc. The yes campaign stayed on the message about equality, civil rights, and (importantly) how this would be good for the nation. So the high road did not get swallowed by the low road.

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