The U.S. Supreme Court has handed gay marriage advocates two important victories by striking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which banned marriage-based benefits for gay and lesbian couples, and clearing the way for same-sex marriages in California. Once the ruling is put into effect, California will become the 13th state plus the District of Columbia to allow same-sex marriages. Although at least 14 countries permit gay and lesbian couples to wed, marriage is limited to opposite-sex couples in most of the United States and the rest of the world. In the United States, gay rights supporters also are seeking state and federal workplace protections for gays and transgender employees. Congress is also being asked to protect gay and transgender students from discrimination or bullying.

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