Obama to extend federal benefits to gay couples

The decision is a political nod to a reliably Democratic voting bloc that in recent weeks 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 where Vice President Joe Biden is expected to speak. 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.