Update: Just got off of the conference call with Director of the Office of Personnel Management John Berry. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a question in, but I can say that the press, as a whole, are very unimpressed with this move. I expect there will be a lot of negative press on this. The tone of the questioning was uniformly skeptical.
On the other hand, Berry did stress, repeatedly, that this memo’s reach is restricted by DOMA. It almost seemed as though Berry was saying that this very weak tea is designed to whet the public appetite for a DOMA repeal. If so, the administration’s defense of DOMA is that much more mystifying.
Berry also tried to pretend that a Presidential memo is the same as an executive order, but was called on it. The memo expires with the President’s term. He again stressed the need for a more permanent, legislative solution in response.
Another reporter pointed out that most, if not all, of the benefits in this memo are already available to at least some federal employees. Berry responded that this action removes such decisions from the individual supervisor’s discretion.
The White House has just released a fact sheet regarding the Presidential Memorandum to be signed later today. While any progress against discrimination is welcome, this seems like a poorly-timed half-measure.
The benefits outlined in the fact sheet aren’t going to impress anyone, and coming, as they do, when President Obama is under fire from the LGBTQ community and its allies, I predict very loud shrugging in response. If you can’t afford a dozen roses, maybe you ought to skip the dandelions.
A press conference call is scheduled for 3 pm. I should have more to say about this then. Here is the full text of the fact sheet: