Ireland expected to vote ‘Yes’ in historic referendum on gay marriage

A 'Yes" voter (AFP/Getty)

A ‘Yes” voter (AFP/Getty)

Friday’s referendum will be the first time that any country has held a national referendum on gay marriage, which the Irish government decided would make it less vulnerable to challenge in the courts by pro-family groups or the church.

For “Yes” campaigners, victory will be hailed as yet another sign that modern, economically dynamic Ireland is throwing off the social shackles that once held it back. Just as Irish people no longer have to go abroad to find work, they say, nor do they now have to emigrate to embrace their sexuality.

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