President Obama expanded benefits to same-sex partners of gay federal employees on Wednesday.
The new benefits include relocation expenses, family assistance in cases of hardship transfers, child-care services and subsidies, and adoption counseling, among others.
These benefits are in addition to those from Obama’s directive last year that allowed domestic partners of federal civil service employees to be added to the long-term care insurance program and workers to use sick leave to take care of domestic partners and children.
Despite the new benefits, however, the partner of gay and lesbian workers still cannot receive full health insurance or retirement benefits because of the Defense of Marriage Act.
Obama has called on Congress to change the law so domestic partners of gay federal employees can receive the same benefits as the spouse of heterosexual workers.
The announcement of extended benefits for gay couples comes just a week after the U.S. House voted to repeal the “don’t ask, don’t tell” rule that bars gays and lesbians from openly serving in the military.
Gay-rights activists have recently criticized Obama for moving too slow on reforming laws to give gays and lesbians more benefits and rights. They have been especially critical of the president on his handling of the DADT law, the gay community’s top agenda.
Obama supports repealing DADT but sided with military leaders who advised Congress to wait for a Pentagon study to be released in December before making any changes. Despite the advice, House leaders went ahead and repealed the law. Lawmakers agreed, however, to not implement any changes until the Pentagon report is released.
The new gay federal employee benefits do not extend to military troops.