WASHINGTON - President Obama on Wednesday extended some federal employee benefits to same-sex couples and their children, and called on Congress to pass legislation providing gay partners with the full range of benefits.

Obama said he signed a memorandum "that requires executive agencies to take immediate action to extend to the same-sex domestic partners of federal employees a number of meaningful benefits." The benefits include employee assistance programs and child-care subsidies.

The memorandum also requires agencies that offer any new benefits to employees' spouses "to make those benefits available on equal terms to employees' same-sex domestic partners to the extent permitted by law," Obama said.

Existing law prevented him from extending all federal employee benefits to same-sex couples, Obama said.