In what has been described as the "civil rights issue of this generation" by Irish Tánaiste (deputy head of government) Eamon Gilmore, the legalization of gay marriage has received the backing of two-thirds of Irish people in a new poll that surveyed people's feelings on the matter.
Like the majority of countries in Europe, same-sex couples in Ireland can already enter into civil unions that offer many of the same legal benefits as straight couples, but marriage itself remains defined as the union between one man and one woman.
A recent "Behavior and Attitudes" poll that questioned 971 adult respondents in Ireland showed, however, that 66 percent believe that definition should be changed to include gay couples.
Only 26 percent of those surveyed said that they supported the traditional definition of marriage, while another 8 percent could not choose one side over the other.
Even though the poll does have a small sample size, it does indicate that public support for gay marriage stands in sharp contrast to the Church's official position on the matter.
The Republic of Ireland, a traditionally Roman Catholic country where 80 percent of the population identifies themselves as Catholic, can be said to be one of the most pro-life countries in Europe. It is one of the only ones where abortion remains illegal in almost all cases, except for when the life of the mother is in danger. In fact, in the whole of Ireland there is only one abortion clinic – which recently opened amid much controversy with protests in the neighboring capital of Belfast, Northern Ireland.
In a separate poll, relevant to the upcoming presidential elections in the United States, 96 percent of Irish told Gallup international that they would vote for President Barack Obama over GOP candidate Mitt Romney, if they had the chance. Obama is pro-choice and supports gay marriage, while Mitt Romney is pro-life and is for the traditional definition of marriage.