For supporters of natural marriage, the results of Ireland’s referendum last Friday are obviously a great disappointment. A resounding majority throughout the country supported the addition of 17 momentous words to the Irish constitution: “Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.”
The result was not as overwhelming as the victors claim. On a 60 percent voter turnout, 62 percent voted Yes. That’s only 36 percent of eligible voters. And contrary to what some pundits have said, it was a respectable turnout but hardly a record. In 1972 there was a 72 percent turnout for a referendum on joining the European Communities (the predecessor of the European Union); in 1992, there was a 68 percent turnout on abortion; and in 2009 there was a 59 percent turnout for the second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.
In fact, also contrary to the pundits, politics energizes the Irish more than love. Voter turnout in the 2011 parliamentary election was 70 percent.