President Barack Obama on Tuesday called for equal benefits for gay and lesbian service members during his State Of The Union address.

“As long as I'm Commander-in-Chief, we will do whatever we must to protect those who serve their country abroad, and we will maintain the best military in the world,” Obama said. “We will invest in new capabilities, even as we reduce waste and wartime spending. We will ensure equal treatment for all service members, and equal benefits for their families – gay and straight. We will draw upon the courage and skills of our sisters and daughters, because women have proven under fire that they are ready for combat. We will keep faith with our veterans – investing in world-class care, including mental health care, for our wounded warriors; supporting our military families; and giving our veterans the benefits, education, and job opportunities they have earned. And I want to thank my wife Michelle and Dr. Jill Biden for their continued dedication to serving our military families as well as they serve us.”

The mention comes a day after outgoing Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta extended some benefits to gay troops.

(Related: Leon Panetta extends benefits to gay troops.)

Allyson Robinson, executive director of OutServe-SLDN, which represents LGBT troops, responded by saying that in order to treat gay troops equally the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) must be overturned.

“President Obama was very clear tonight in his assertion that lesbian and gay service members and their families must be treated equally by the nation they serve,” Robinson said in a statement. “Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta opened the path to equal recognition, benefits, and support to gay and lesbian service members this week. To finish the task, the Supreme Court must strike down the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. Secretary Panetta's successor must enact equal opportunity and non-discrimination policies that protect LGBT troops and ensure America's military can attract and retain America's best. And outmoded, obsolete policies that bar qualified American patriots who are transgender from military service must be eliminated. At OutServe-SLDN, we and our 6,000 LGBT members in uniform stand ready to work with the President, Congress, and the Pentagon to make this vision a reality.”

Obama's speech also included a second reference to gay rights.

“It is our unfinished task to restore the basic bargain that built this country – the idea that if you work hard and meet your responsibilities, you can get ahead, no matter where you come from, what you look like, or who you love.”