'Little island with a big voice': Pride over Ireland's same-sex marriage vote

(CNN)The Internet exploded with rainbows Saturday as Ireland became the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage through a popular vote.

Ireland became a worldwide trending topic on social media after voters approved the referendum by as much as 70% in some constituencies.
Among the posts, pictures and memes, a common refrain emerged: If the predominantly Catholic country can come together in support of same-sex marriage, what's stopping other countries from rethinking their stance?
    The social media buildup started with Friday's polling. Many citizens who live abroad returned home to vote, and demonstrated their support not just at the ballot box, but online with tweets using the #HometoVote hashtag.
    Rainbows figured prominently in social media posts -- especially when real rainbows appeared in the sky over Dublin. Some were quick to suggest -- perhaps ironically, maybe not -- that it was Jesus casting his vote.
    The colorful imagery continued after polls closed and early reports indicated the "Yes" side had succeeded, with many using the #MarRef (for marriage referendum) hashtag.
    Even those on the other side of the issue -- such as David Quinn, a director of the Iona Institute, a conservative Catholic think tank -- conceded the outcome.
    Folks in the "Yes" camp offered gracious and amusing comments to those on the other side.
    Comedian Eleanor Tiernan jokingly offered "good luck to the no side in dealing with all the changes this won't bring to their lives."
    Cian Murphy, a faculty member at the law school of King's College London, thought about the mothers out there who now have reason to pester their gay and lesbian children, much like they might have bugged their heterosexual sons and daughters, to put a ring on it.
    You didn't have to be in Ireland, though, to share in or appreciate the moment.
    Alastair Campbell, once a spokesman to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, noted Ireland's role in leading the way internationally.
    "Ireland led world on smoking legislation," Campbell tweeted. "Now looks like being first country to deliver gay marriage with specific popular consent."
    Author Cecelia Ahern gave her own shout out to Ireland, tweeting her love to "the little island with the big voice."
    Another acclaimed author, J.K. Rowling, quoted the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. about "the arc of the moral universe (bending) toward justice" in reference to what she called an "extraordinary and wonderful" vote.
    The Scotland-based "Harry Potter" creator used a meme featuring three pop culture characters -- Hogwarts Headmaster Albus Dumbledore, The Lord of the Rings' Gandalf and Ted, the dude from "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure," whose face was pictured with the words, "What if Dumbledore and Gandalf were gay together."
    Dumbledore and Gandalf aren't the only imaginary couple who can now get hitched in Ireland.
    Still, it's the thousands of real couples -- not to mention all their families and friends -- who have the most reason to celebrate. For them, the vote means they can have not just a wedding day like opposite-sex couples have had for centuries, but many of the same rights that go with marriage.
    Reflecting on what he called "serious history being made" in his homeland, Irish Times communities editor David Cochrane said the vote wasn't just about one's definition of marriage; it was how the Irish see themselves.
    "I thought #MarRef would be about gay identity," he wrote. "I was so wrong. It became about Irish identity. So proud of the Ireland I live in."