As expected, President Obama this evening signed an executive memo authorizing some additional benefits to the same sex partners of federal employees. A copy of the actual memo is here, along with a lengthy statement in which Obama emphasizes this is “just a start.” Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office, Obama said the law doesn’t allow him to go as far as he’d like and announced his support for legislation in Congress that would guarantee “all rights” including health insurance and pension benefits for domestic partners of federal employees. As he spoke, Obama was surrounded by representatives of many gay rights groups who have criticized his administration’s stance on equality issues in recent days, including the Human Rights Campaign. Obama specifically brought up the Defense of Marriage Act, which his administration defended in a controversial legal brief last week, and repeated his support for its repeal. “I believe it's discriminatory, I think it interferes with states' rights, and we will work with Congress to overturn it,” Obama said. He did not mention another hot button issue, his promise to repeal the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy in the military. “We've got more work to do to ensure that government treats all its citizens equally; to fight injustice and intolerance in all its forms; and to bring about that more perfect union,” Obama said. “I'm committed to these efforts, and I pledge to work tirelessly on behalf of these issues in the months and years to come.” The president took no questions from the press. A transcript of his remarks is here.
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