Gay Americans can be 'extremely proud' of Obama: OPM director Berry

The gay and lesbian community can be "extremely proud" of the memorandum to be signed by President Obama mandating some federal benefits be extended to same-sex couples, the administration's highest-ranking gay official argued Wednesday.

In a conference call, Office of Personnel and Mangement (OPM) director John Berry defended the administration from withering attacks by some in the LGBT community, who say Obama has not moved aggressively or swiftly enough to expand gay and lesbian rights.

"I think the gay community can be extremely proud that this president stands with us 100 percent on the core issues we care about right now," Berry said, denying that today's announcement was timed to quiet a fever pitch from some activists angered by the administration.

"I believe this is a very strong and important action on both counts and I think history is going to reflect that," Berry explained, referencing the fact that the memorandum will both make those benefits mandatory and extend to transgendered individuals, as well.

"I think what the president is doing here -- this is a first step, not a final step," the OPM director explained. "This is an effort to get our house in order."

He said that there was no timeline for the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) or the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, saying that the administration would move legislation on those when it felt it had the votes in Congress to overturn those policies.