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Same-sex partners of federal workers to get benefits

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama, under growing criticism for not seeking to end the ban on openly gay men and women in the military, is extending benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees.

Obama plans to announce his decision today in the Oval Office, a White House official said Tuesday. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because Obama hadn't yet signed the presidential memorandum.

The official said Obama would release more details today.

The decision is a political nod to a reliably Democratic voting bloc that recently has grown frustrated with the White House's slow movement on their priorities.

Several powerful gay fundraisers withdrew their support from a June 25 Democratic National Committee event. Their exit came in response to a June 12 Justice Department brief that defended the Defense of Marriage Act, a prime target for gay and lesbian criticism. Justice lawyers argued that the law allowed states to reject marriages performed in other states or countries that defy their own standards.

Gays and lesbians later fretted as the White House declined to intervene in the cases of enlisted military members facing courts-martial for defying the Clinton-era "don't ask, don't tell" policies. White House officials say they want Congress to repeal the policy as part of a "lasting and durable" solution.

Fast facts

Rise in killings

The number of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people killed in bias-motivated incidents increased by 28 percent in 2008 compared to a year ago, according to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs. The 29 deaths in 2008 tied with the highest recorded in 1999.

Same-sex partners of federal workers to get benefits 06/17/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 17, 2009 12:17am]

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