22 May 2015

Ireland to vote on same-sex marriage

12:17 pm on 22 May 2015

Ireland is on the eve of making world history today with the first-ever referendum on same-sex marriage.

A woman walks past a mural backing same-sex marriage in Ireland on 21 May.

A woman walks past a mural backing same-sex marriage in Ireland on 21 May. Photo: AFP

While other countries including New Zealand have recognised same-sex marriages, Ireland would be the first to do so as the result of a referendum.

A "yes" result from today's vote would effectively ratify the Marriage Equality Bill - but the Catholic Church, which still holds plenty of influence in Ireland, is urging "no".

The reform is backed by all of the republic's main political parties, championed by big employers and endorsed by several celebrities.

Newstalk political correspondent Paraic Gallagher, in Dublin, told Morning Report that Ireland's constitution, written in 1937, effectively defined a family as a marriage between a man and a woman.

"The Government is proposing to introduce an extra clause into our constitution which says that a marriage can effectively be contracted by two people regardless of their sex," he said.

"This is a civil marriage we're talking about rather than the church services but it has still somewhat divided the nation, it has to be said - though not so much as a lot of people have thought or as it is being portrayed in some places around the world."

Polls have suggested two-to-one support for the change although the margin has narrowed in the lead-up to today's referendum.

The results of the referendum will be declared on Saturday.

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