Michael Barron, founding director of BeLonGTo, in response to the landslide victory of the YES side, said: “We’ve changed forever what it means to grow up LGBT in Ireland".
The Irish people, via the ballot box, have today given each and every gay child and young person in Ireland – and across the world – a strong and powerful message that they are loved, they are cared for, and don’t need to change who they are, he added.
“A new generation has spoken. This is a generation with open, kind hearts, a generosity of spirit and a great capacity to love. They have gone to the polls in their thousands and are responsible for this historic victory for their gay brothers and sisters” he said at RDS Simmonsourt RDS Dublin count.
BeLonG To, the national organisation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) young people aged between 14- and 23-years-old, has been instrumental in coordinating the BeLonG To YES coalition of 15 leading youth and children’s organisations – the largest coalition campaigning for a YES vote in the marriage equality referendum. It is estimated there are 75,000 LGBT children and young people under 18-years-old living in Ireland today.
Grainia Long, Chief Executive of the ISPCC Childline, said: “The ISPCC is proud to have joined 14 other leading youth and children's organisations to form a strong coalition called BeLonG To YES. On behalf of all those children and young people who contact Childline for support, Thank You"
Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance, said: “This is a new Ireland where all children are cherished equally. The vote is a signal to LGBT children that they matter, they're valued and that Ireland cares.”
Fergus Finlay, Chief Executive of Barnardos, said: “This vote is a vindication of values, of leadership, of honesty and decency. Ireland should be proud of leading the whole world.”
Mary Cunnigham, Director of the National Youth Council of Ireland, said: "Over, the past few months we've seen over 100,000 people – primarily young people, students, and first time voters – registering and getting ready to use their voices for good - for love. They came from all over the world to be here today, and the future of Ireland is brighter and better because of them."
Jennifer Gargan, Director of EPIC (Empowering People in Care), said: “EPIC is delighted that the people of Ireland have voted yes to marriage equality. This is truly a historic moment. The result of the referendum will have a positive impact on the present and future generations of our children. Ireland, as a nation today has voted to embrace and embed a culture that will vindicate everyone’s right to marriage.”
Member organisations of the BeLonG To YES coalition include 15 youth and children’s organisations in total, including Foróige, Youth Work Ireland, the Migrant Rights Centre, Headstrong, Yes Equality, Pavee Point, Start Strong, UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, as well as BeLonG To, Barnardos, ISPCC, Children’s Rights Alliance, National Youth Council of Ireland, and EPIC.