The Associated Press, whose stylebook is "the journalist's bible" used by writers and abused by bloggers the world over, issued a memo today clarifying when writers should use the terms "Husband" and "Wife" to refer to partners in same-sex marriages.
That "memo for internal guidance" was first published on Jim Romenesko's media watchdog blog:
From: AP Standards
Sent: Mon 2/11/2013 2:45 PM
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.
In other words, there are no husbands or wives in same-sex marriages. At least, not unless the happy couple involved labeled themselves that first. A spokesman for the AP later wrote Romenesko to clarify the policy, but really just to rearrange the words in the memo:
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.
As Gawker notes, same-sex marriages are legal in nine states at this point. That's not to mention our Canadian neighbors and ten other countries around the planet that recognize same-sex marriages. But the world's leading style guide doesn't think same sex couples were pronounced husband and husband or wife and wife unless they, at some point, referred to themselves as such. Meanwhile, blogger John Aravosis notes the double standard in the AP's latest decision:
Is that AP’s standard for straight couples too? Only call straight people husband and wife if the couple calls themselves husband and wife? I doubt it....Why does it matter if gay people uses the terms husband and wife to define their legal marriage if AP doesn’t have the same standard for straight couples - AP doesn’t say if the couple is straight they’ll only call them husband and wife if “those involved have regularly used those terms.” So why the different standard for legal gay marriages? Because AP doesn’t think gay marriages are legit, and certainly not equal to straight marriages.
Late last year, the AP also banned the use of the word "homophobia" because it wasn't an actual mental disability.