Associated Press Tells Writers Not To Use “Husband,” “Wife” For Same-Sex Couples

ap-stylebook-websiteEven if your state considers married same-sex partners equal to their heterosexual counterparts, the Associated Press doesn’t want its writers using the words “husband” and “wife” when referring to them

An internal memo attributed to the venerable wire service initially banned the use of the words for legally-wed gay couples. After allies and advocate cried foul, the AP quickly updated its style guide, considered the grammar Bible by many media outlets and universities, and said the error had been fixed.

But as AmericaBlog points out, the AP now says “husband” and “wife” are still verboten, unless the couple is known to use that term themselves. We can’t remember the last time a straight married couple was asked how they refer to themselves, can you?

From AP’s 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.

The AP recently wrinkled some noses when it banned the use of the word “homophobia,” purportedly because it was inaccurate and made anti-gay animus sound like a mental illness. But coupled with this latest edict, it smells rather shady.

What the AP is doing, in essence, is redefining marriage. (Someone call Maggie Gallagher!) If a couple with no legal bond calls themselves “husbands,” they’ll be referred to that way. But a married same-sex couple that didn’t send out a press release on what they want to be referred to as gets called “partners.”

Why not just go with “butt buddies”?