June 17, 2009 / 4:21 AM / 10 years ago

Obama to extend benefits to unmarried partners

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama will sign a memorandum on Wednesday to extend healthcare and other benefits to unmarried domestic partners of federal workers, a White House official said on Tuesday.

Notice of the scheduled signing appeared in the daily guidance for White House reporters. No additional details were given but the benefits are expected to be given to heterosexual and homosexual couples.

On Tuesday, a New York Times editorial said the Obama administration, which campaigned on a promise to protect gay rights, had since come down on the wrong side of the issue and “needs a new direction.”

The editorial and criticism from gay and lesbian activists follow a Justice Department brief filed last week in support of the Defense of Marriage Act, which protects the right of states not to recognize same-sex marriages. The law also denies same-sex married couples federal benefits.

Reporting by Joanne Allen; Editing by John O'Callaghan

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