New regs for Friday: Endangered species and travel benefits for same-sex spouses

Friday’s edition of the Federal Register contains new rules from the General Services Administration extending travel benefits to same-sex spouses of federal employees and a proposal from the Fish and Wildlife Service to review the classification of 10 species under the Endangered Species Act.

Here is a look at what’s to come.

Domestic Partner: The General Services Administration is moving forward with a rule that will extend travel benefits to same-sex spouses of federal employees.

The agency rule changes the definitions of “marriage” and “spouse,” and revises the definition of “domestic partnership,” to include same-sex couples under Federal Travel Regulation, which maps out the policies for which federal civilian employees and their family can travel on the government’s dime.

Under the new rule, the term marriage will be added to include same-sex couples that were married in a state where same-sex marriage is legal even if it's not legal in the state the couple is living in.

GSA is also updating “domestic partnership” to allow individuals in a same-sex relationship to be considered immediate family members if their state does not allow same-sex marriages. Those couples living in states where gay marriage is legal, however, will not be considered “domestic partners or immediate family members.”

The agency said the Defense of Marriage Act prohibited the federal government from recognizing same-sex couples for all federal purposes including travel and relocation entitlements until June 2009 when Preside Obama signed a presidential memorandum on federal benefits and non-discrimination, which directed agency administrators to determine what authority they have to extend benefits to same-sex domestic partners of federal employees.

The rule will take effect immediately.

Species: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said it’s found reason to review whether 10 species should be listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

FWS said it has petitions to list the Clear Lake hitch — a large minnow found in Northern California, the Egyptian tortoise, the long-tailed chinchilla, the Mojave shoulderband snail, the relict dace — a tiny fish native to Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge, the San Joaquin Valley giant flower-loving fly, the western pond turtle and the yellow-cedar.

The agency said its also considering whether to delist the endangered golden parakeet and reclassify the Northern spotted owl.  

The public has 60 days to comment.