wedding rings

The Associated Press, only two months after from the announcement that the word “homophobia” did not meet their style guidelines, decided last week to be homophobic. Their guidelines would now no longer permit the use of “husband” or “wife” for persons in legal marriages when the partner was same-sex.

GLAAD summarizes the AP position:

GLAAD reached out to the Associated Press today for clarification on a memo reportedly circulated today that appears to instruct writers to use different vocabulary to describe legally married same-sex couples than they would use to describe opposite-sex couples.

This morning, journalist and media reporter Jim Romenesko posted this item, regarding an internal memo from the Associated Press that covered how they choose to refer to a same-sex couple that is married:

SAME-SEX COUPLES: We were asked how to report about same-sex couples who call themselves “husband” and “wife.” Our view is that such terms may be used in AP stories with attribution. Generally AP uses couples or partners to describe people in civil unions or same-sex marriages.

Later, AP spokespeople told Romenesko that the memo had been revised and reissued, and that this was the correct version:

SAME-SEX COUPLES: We were asked how to report about same-sex couples who call themselves “husband” and “wife.” Our view is that such terms may be used in AP content if those involved have regularly used those terms (“Smith is survived by his husband, John Jones”) or in quotes attributed to them. Generally AP uses couples or partners to describe people in civil unions or same-sex marriages.

The ensuing protest included an effort by one physician in the Central Valley of California to organize couples to write to the AP one at a time to advise that “we regularly use these terms.” Now, though, the AP has backed down. The AP will use the term “husband” to apply to a male partner in any legal marriage and the term “wife” to apply to the female partner in any legal marriage, regardless of the gender of the partner.

Another small step for equality.

The Associated Press stated Thursday that “husband” and “wife” are “acceptable in all references” to same-sex married couples, reversing an internal style guidance initially publicized by Jim Romenesko this past week.

In a news release Thursday, the AP states, “The following entry was added today to the AP Stylebook Online and also will appear in the new print edition and Stylebook Mobile, published in the spring.” This is the new entry:

husband, wife: Regardless of sexual orientation, husband or wife is acceptable in all references to individuals in any legally recognized marriage. Spouse or partner may be used if requested.

The style guidance issued this past week had said the terms “husband” or “wife” could only could be used with same-sex married couples “if those involved have regularly used those terms … or in quotes attributed to them.” Instead, the guidance continued, “Generally AP uses couples or partners to describe people in civil unions or same-sex marriages.”

Nice to see the AP agree that the legal marriages in the nine states (and DC) that permit them aren’t any different with regard to how the partners’ titles should be reported. What a silly unforced error by AP!

Photo by Ernst Vikne under Creative Commons license