President Obama has signaled to gay rights activists that he is listening to their calls for action.
On Wednesday, he issued a presidential memorandum extending government benefits to partners of gay federal employees.
During an oval office ceremony the president said extending health care and other benefits to the partners of gay federal employees is long overdue.
"We've got more work to do to ensure government treats all its citizens fairly," Obama said.
The move allows federal workers to use their sick leave to care for domestic partners. But it does not provide for health care benefits to the dismay of many in the gay community.
"It really is too little. It's not enough," said Marc Solomon of Equality California. "We have a long way to go,"
The gay community has become increasingly frustrated with President Obama. On the campaign trail, he was a vocal supporter of gay rights, promising to repeal the military's 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' policy.
Meanwhile, Obama says he wants to see the Defense of Marriage Act repealed. The act allows states to reject another states' legalized gay marriage, and limits federal benefits for homosexuals. He wants to replace it with a law that would give the partners of gay and lesbian federal employees health insurance and survivor benefits, among other things.
"Among the steps we have not yet taken is to repeal the Defence of Marriage Act," Obama said. "I believe it's discriminatory. I think it interferes with states' rights, and we will work with Congress to overturn it. We've got more work to do to ensure that government treats all its citizens equally, to fight injustice and intolerance in all its forms and to bring about that more perfect union."
Opponents of gay rights weighed in on the issue, saying the president's action is just one more way of chipping away at traditional marriage.
"What's so outrageous here is that the president is carving out a special category of benefits for people based upon their sexual behavior," said Tony Perkins of Family Research Council. "It's not just for people who live together, because it's not for heterosexuals who cohabitate. This is just for homosexual couples who cohabitate."
Perkins also noted Obama's use of taxpayer money.
"In essence this is nothing more than the president using taxpayer money to pay off his political base and keep them at bay until he can give them the a bigger prizes that they want," he added.
Bishop Harry Jackson of High Impact Coalition said this recent action exemplifies the president's agenda on marriage.
"This action today is a way of forestalling the ultimate payback and unfortunately I believe that our president has very, very strong leanings to an anti-marriage agenda which will ultimately try to foster gay marriage directly," he said.
Some gay activists call the president's action insulting. Others say it is a first step toward equal rights for the gay community.