UPDATE: 7PM ET, FRI 22 – Marriage equality campaigner are confident that a high turnout of voters will be enough to carry the referendum in their favor. The Irish Times reports “high turnouts in urban areas and massive engagement by younger voters.”
The votes will be counted on Saturday.
MIDNIGHT, THURS 21: Ireland looks poised to become the first country to adopt marriage equality in a national referendum when its people vote on Friday. The Irish Times surveyed every legislator in Ireland’s upper and lower houses, and if their intentions are representative of the wider nation, the proposed constitutional amendment would clearly pass.
Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny has backed a ‘Yes’ vote, saying:
“The Yes will obliterate, publicly, the remaining barriers of prejudice or the irrational fear of ‘them’ and ‘us’ in this regard. Equally, a very public Yes will create a very private and very personal hope.”
Opinion polls had shown the ‘Yes’ campaign with a commanding lead – the Irish Times reported that the ‘No’ side would need a seismic shift to carry the day – although that has narrowed recently and Alberto Nardelli at The Guardian writes that “there are several factors of uncertainty to consider, and that could mean the result ends up closer than these figures imply.”
Emily Dugan reports from Donegal for The Independent and wonders whether the opinion polls may have “overestimated support for the bill.”
The possibility of a “shy” No vote is one that is being much discussed in political circles in Dublin. After the unreliability of polling in Britain’s General Election, pundits in Ireland are worried that the same could happen in this referendum, with embarrassed No voters not being frank about their intentions to pollsters.
The social pressure to at least appear to be sympathetic to the Yes vote is felt across the country following endorsements not just from all major political parties but state bodies too. Even Ireland’s police association, the Garda Representative Association, has come out for Yes, the first time it has taken a partisan position on a referendum.
A broadcast moratorium on reporting is currently in place, until the polls close at 10pm (5pm ET) on Friday.
The BBC gathered some quotes from celebrities on both sides of the debate – from former Irish President Mary McAleese, who is voting ‘Yes’; to the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin who is in the ‘No’ camp.
The Irish Independent reports on a survey that says the country’s newspapers “printed three times more ‘yes’ articles’ between May 1st and May 20th. There have also been claims and counter-claims about the role of foreign money – particularly from the US – in financing the two campaigns.
The vote takes place, appropriately enough, on Harvey Milk Day.
* WORLD * A grand jury in Baltimore indicted all six police officers involved in the death of Freddie Gray.
Islamic State is reportedly tightening its control on the Syrian city of Palmyra. Reuters reports:
The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the al Qaeda offshoot now controlled more than half of all Syrian territory after more than four years of conflict that grew out of an uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.
The monitoring group added that Islamic State had seized the last border crossing between Syria and Iraq controlled by the Damascus government. The crossing is in Syria’s Homs province, where Palmyra is located.
The Los Angeles Times reports on the latest incident in the ongoing sparring between the US and China over the South China Sea, including video of an exchange between a US military aircraft and the Chinese navy.
When the U.S. crew responded that it was flying in international airspace, the Chinese dispatcher answered, “This is the Chinese navy…. You go!” The U.S. plane, which was operating from an air base in the Philippines, received eight warnings from the Chinese during the mission.
Britain’s newly-re-elected Prime Minister David Cameron will use an EU summit in Latvia to begin discussions on his plan to renegotiate Britain’s relationship with the European Union. His trip comes as the latest data on net migration to Britain showed numbers spike to near record levels.
Fareed Zakaria writes at the Washington Post how Britain has “resigned as a world power.”
The country is suspicious of a robust foreign policy of any kind — including serious sanctions against Russia, getting tough in trade talks with China, the use of force in the Middle East and an engaged relationship with the rest of Europe. During the recent election, as The Post reported, foreign policy barely surfaced..
…It is a paradox, readily apparent to visitors to Britain, that London continues to thrive as a global hub, increasingly cosmopolitan and worldly. More than a third of Londoners were born outside the United Kingdom. And this government has been more than willing to travel around the world petitioning for investment, whether it be Chinese, Russian or Arab. That is fine as a strategy for an aspiring entrepôt or financial haven, but Britain is not Luxembourg.
* POLITICS * The first tranche of emails from Hillary Clinton’s private server were published by the New York Times, including correspondence on Libya with former adviser Sidney Blumenthal, who has been subpoenaed by the House Committee investigating the attack on Benghazi. The Washington Post reports that Blumenthal said he would co-operate with the Committee.
The Hill reports that the Committee is also planning to interview another Clinton aide, Huma Abedin, after Blumenthal testifies.
Meanwhile, more details emerged of various speaking fees received by Hillary, Bill and Chelsea Clinton on behalf of their family Foundation. Politico reports that
Over time, the Clintons have disclosed more than $130 million in speech income since 2001. The foundation’s haul is at least $12 million and could be more than double that since the payments were disclosed only in broad ranges.
On the GOP side, Louisiana Gov Bobby Jindal continues to come under fire over his executive order protecting anyone who objects to same-sex marriage. The AP reports that Jindal, “courting Christian conservatives for a likely presidential bid” made the order after a similar measure failed in the state legislature.
Similar measures have been pushed by social and political conservatives around the country as same-sex marriage is increasingly being approved by federal courts and state governments. The defeated bill in Louisiana would have gone further, sharply curtailing the state’s ability to punish those who discriminate against same-sex couples, critics say.
Jindal’s order forbids state agencies from denying individuals, businesses and nonprofits any licenses, benefits, jobs or tax deductions because of action taken due to religious belief that marriage should be between a man and woman.
New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu was among those pushing back, saying Jindal’s order “could adversely affect the state’s and city’s ability to attract jobs, large conventions and major special events, such as the Super Bowl.”
* MEDIA *
Finally, Jim Romenesko looks at the brilliance that is John Oliver’s ongoing homage to ‘The Most Patient Man on Television’.