Voters in Ireland appear to have overwhelmingly backed same-sex marriage in a referendum that leaders are casting as a ''huge day for equality.'' Nathan Frandino reports.
Celebrations start early in Ireland, where the country's equality minister Aodhan O'Riordain is basking in the glow of what appears to be a landslide "yes" vote in a same-sex marriage referendum. (SOUNDBITE) (English) IRISH MINISTER OF JUSTICE AND EQUALITY, AODHAN O'RIORDAIN SAYING: "Well, I think we're looking at two to one yes vote, I think there, you know, we were looking at... a couple of months ago we were taking a very small yes vote, a very small margin of victory but now it looks like there's been a resounding yes across the country and it's, I'm just so proud to be Irish today." Final results are not expected until later in the day. Many believe it marks a dramatic social shift in the traditionally Catholic country where homosexuality was decriminalized just two decades ago. Opponents of the bill conceded just minutes after the first boxes were opened, while former Irish Minister Pat Carey called the predicted outcome a brave statement. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FORMER IRISH MINISTER, PAT CAREY, SAYING: "I feel elated. I mean, I think it's a brave statement by the Irish people that they have voted in great numbers to extend equality to gay and lesbian people to allow them to get married civilly in a registry office." Outside, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams celebrated with fellow campaigners. (SOUNDBITE) (English) SINN FEIN LEADER, GERRY ADAMS, SAYING: "It's hugely important and I want to thank everyone who voted but I especially want to thank all those who voted 'Tá' (Irish language affirmative), who voted yes and I want to command all the equality campaigners. It was a wonderful campaign to be part of. They were enthusiastic, idealistic, happy and very very positive. So I think it's a huge day for equality." The proposal was backed by all political parties in Ireland -- long regarded as one of the most socially conservative in Western Europe.