DUBLIN, Ireland — Voters in Ireland overwhelmingly approved a constitutional change allowing same-gender couples to legally wed in the island nation. The vote, with 62.1 percent approving the change, makes Ireland the first nation in the world to extend LGBT marriage rights by popular vote.

LGBT advocates in the nation were quick to praise the results, as were advocates in countries across the globe. Groups pressing against the change, including the Roman Catholic Church, expressed disappointment. Soon after the results, the Vatican’s secretary of state called the ballot victory a “defeat for humanity.”

In an op-ed published in The Advocate and Washington Blade, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden praised the decision of Irish voters.

“Last weekend, more than 1.2 million Irish voters took a courageous stand for love and family when they overwhelmingly chose marriage equality,” Biden wrote the last week of May. “They recognized the fundamental truth that every person is entitled to dignity and respect, and that there can be no justification for the denigration or persecution of anyone because of who they love or who they are.”

Biden also recognizes Ireland’s dramatic political and legal transformation on LGBT issues. Same-gender sexual activity was decriminalized in 1993.

“In 22 years, Ireland has gone from a nation where simply being LGBT was against the law to a nation where the people resoundingly stand for equal rights,” Biden wrote.

Full marriage equality could come to the U.S. sometime in June, when the Supreme Court is expected to issue its ruling in two landmark cases argued in April.

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Lainey Millen

Lainey Millen is QNotes' associate editor, special assignments writer, N.C. and U.S./World News Notes columnist and production director. She can be reached at specialassignments@goqnotes.com and 704-531-9988,...