Obama Offers Gays Too Little, Too Late

Toothless federal-benefits gesture falls flat in LGBT community
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 17, 2009 11:42 AM CDT
Gay-pride participants hold signs in support of then-candidate Barack Obama at the LA Pride Parade, June 8, 2008, in West Hollywood, Calif.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – President Obama’s memorandum giving gay federal workers some of the benefits straight ones enjoy has gone over like a lead balloon in the gay community, Politico reports. Advocates say it’s a weak gesture because the Defense of Marriage Act—which the administration recently defended—prevents it from including health or retirement benefits. “Are they kidding us?” asked one activist. “It is like rubbing salt in the wound.”

Many corporations already extend full benefits to gay couples, including health and retirement. Worse, the memorandum will expire when Obama leaves office. “Welcome to 1999,” one activist says. “How revolutionary of the White House to give benefits to same-sex couples, when two-thirds of conservative Wall Street are already doing it.” Blog Queerty adds that it’s “seriously late,” and “the absolute minimum Obama could do.”