President Obama is considering nominating an openly gay man to a top civilian Pentagon post, the Washington Post reported Thursday.

The president, under pressure from gay activists to live up to campaign promises he made to help secure greater rights for gay men and lesbians, is considering nominating William White to a high-ranking civilian Pentagon post.

The paper did not disclose the post being considered, but White, chief operating officer of Manhattan's Intrepid Museum Foundation, was once touted by top retired military leaders and some Democrats in Congress to be the next Secretary of the Navy.

While heading the Intrepid, White has accumulated extensive contacts in the armed forces, and in 1996, he was awarded the Meritorious Public Service Award for his work with the Navy.

His consideration for the top spot drew praise from gay rights groups and fire from social conservatives.

Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay and lesbian rights advocate, said the appointment would be a “concrete demonstration” of Obama's commitment to serving all Americans.

“It's a matter of judgment, and I think that would be very poor judgment on the part of the commander in chief,” said Center for Military Readiness President Elaine Donnelly, whose group opposes the repeal of the military's ban on open gay service known as “don't ask, don't tell.” “It would be very demoralizing for the troops.”

Eventually, Obama passed on White for the job, opting instead on Ray Mabus.

Paul Sousa, founder of Equal Rep, the Boston-based group that lobbied Obama to nominate White in January, was pleased with the news, but said it was unlikely to defuse the firestorm of protest underway against the administration's defense of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

“It's commendable that President Obama would nominate a well qualified openly gay man to this civil post,” Sousa told On Top Magazine. Then added, “Our criticism will not stop until he rescinds that repugnant brief or repeals DOMA.”

Gay activists – and allies – have criticized the administration for defending DOMA in a brief against a California gay couple who have sued the federal government, claiming the law is unconstitutional. Candidate Obama promised the would repeal DOMA.

Critics have decried the brief, labeling it “homophobic” for drawing parallels between gay marriage and incestuous and polygamous relationships, and its reliance on outdated and inaccurate gay stereotypes.