Partners Adrian, left and Shane, arrive to vote at a polling station in Drogheda, Ireland, May 22, 2015. (AP/Peter Morrison)
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Ireland's voters were deciding Friday whether to legalize gay marriage in this once-staunchly Catholic land in what the government's equality minister called "a referendum like no other".With the once mighty Catholic Church's influence ravaged by child abuse scandals, opinion polls indicated the proposal would pass by as much as two-to-one, making Ireland the first country to adopt same-sex marriage via a popular vote. But gay rights activists expressed caution, based on previous votes when anti-government sentiment and low turnout produced surprise referendum rejections.Electoral officers reported stronger-than-usual voter turnout at polling stations in schools, church halls and pubs across this nation of 3.2 million registered voters. The government's minister for equality, Aodhan O Riordain, cast his "yes" ballot in northeast Dublin, declaring it the most important vote of his life.
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