Gay Rights
June 28, 2013
Will same-sex marriage continue to advance?

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.

Waving rainbow-colored flags, supporters of same-sex marriage demonstrate in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on June 26, 2013, as the court released two rulings favorable to gay marriage advocates. (AFP/Getty Images/Mladen Antonov)   Waving rainbow-colored flags, supporters of same-sex marriage demonstrate in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on June 26, 2013, as the court released two rulings favorable to gay marriage advocates. (AFP/Getty Images/Mladen Antonov)

Gay rights advocates are making significant gains in winning marriage rights for same-sex couples in the United States and around the world, even though the overwhelming majority of states and countries still limit marriage to opposite-sex couples.

Supporters of gay rights savored two more victories in late June when the Supreme Court ruled DOMA unconstitutional and cleared the way for gay and lesbian couples to wed in California, the nation's most populous state. The 5-4 ruling in United States v. Windsor struck down the 1996 law barring federal marriage-based benefits for gay couples even if legally married in their home states. In the second, Hollingsworth v. Perry, the court turned aside an effort to reinstate California's ban on gay marriage, Proposition 8, after it had been struck down by two lower federal courts.

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