GSA Expands Definition of Immediate Family to Include Domestic Partners
October 4, 2011 by Robin Maril, Legislative Counsel, Administrative Advocacy
In a final rule published last week, the General Services Administration expanded the definition of immediate family in the Federal Travel Regulation to include the domestic partner of a federal employee, as well as the domestic partner’s children, dependent siblings and parents as members of the employee’s household.
GSA began review of these regulations and their impact on same-sex domestic partners following a series of presidential memoranda published in June 2009 and June 2010 instructing agencies to take actions extending benefits to same-sex domestic partners of federal employees to the extent possible under current law.
Prior to this policy change, the federal government only reimbursed expenses incurred by heterosexual spouses of federal employees for job-related relocation and travel. This policy change will allow an employee to meet workplace demands without facing increased expenses to relocate his or her family simply because his or her partner is of the same sex. This revision moves us closer to the reality that every federal worker receives the same benefits and can provide equally for the needs of their family.
HRC applauds this as an important step in remedying inequity in federal employee benefits, but encourages the Administration to continue its critical examination of the impact of all federal benefits regulations and policies. Furthermore, same-sex partners of federal employees are not eligible for health insurance and retirement benefits, a disparity that must be remedied by a change in law. Congress has the power to fix this and Human Rights Campaign continues to urge the passage of the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act.