President Barack Obama is to extend federal benefits for partners to same-sex couples but critics have said the move will not be permanent, probably won’t include healthcare and will not be applied to those serving in the military.

According to reports, he will today sign a presidential memorandum equalising benefits for federal workers.

The concession comes after a Department of Justice decision last week to defend DOMA, or the Defence of Marriage Act.

However, it has been suggested that the move will not be permanent.

Speaking on the Rachel Maddow show, Chuck Todd of NBC News said that because this is only a “memorandum”, it will expire when Obama leaves office.

Meanwhile, Advocate.com reports that health benefits will not be included due to legal obstacles posed by DOMA.

It is also unclear how those serving in the US military would access benefits for their partners, as it would require them to out themselves, something which is grounds for dismissal.

DOMA allows states to reject gay marriages performed in other states and bars gay couples from accessing federal benefits.

The Justice Department’s defence of the law last week invoked incest and child marriage as part of its legal argument, infuriating gay activists.

Others said he had essentially declared gay rights less important that black rights, on the anniversary of Loving v Virginia which struck down laws against interracial marriage in the state.

In May, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton unveiled equal benefits for gay partners of US diplomats stationed overseas.

Howard Berman, head of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, had asked the State Committee to ensure benefits such as medical care, transport between postings and security training were offered to same-sex partners.