This just in: after a week of sustained pressure from LGBT bloggers, activists, and organizations, the Associated Press has reversed itself and agreed to use marital terminology for all couples, regardless of sexual orientation.
In a press release issued today, 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.” The entry reads as follows:
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 upcoming inclusion of this entry into the official AP Stylebook — essentially the Bible for journalists — is significant because it represents the organization’s first-ever official usage guidelines for the terms “husband” and “wife.”
Previously, the Associated Press issued a memo that advised reporters to use “husband” and “wife” by default when referring to the relationship between legally married opposite-sex spouses, but to use non-marital terms like “partner” when writing about legally married same-sex spouses unless “those involved” directed them otherwise.
As I and many others pointed out, this amounted to a linguistic double standard, requiring only same-sex couples to “opt in” to the use of marital terminology.
It’s good to see the AP make this important and necessary correction and remove itself from the business of minimizing same-sex couples’ legal marriages.