Thursday, February 21, 2013

AP Style: Husband and wife

The AP really kicked up a hornet's nest last month when an internal memo surfaced saying that "husband" and "wife" were fine for same-sex couples if the couples had regularly used those terms. Otherwise, the memo said, "couple" or "partners" was probably the better choice.

Slate's Jeffrey Bloomer had a more nuanced and reasoned look at the issue.

Now the AP has issued its stylebook ruling:
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.
 Those who were upset before might fire at "legally recognized marriage," since the federal Defense of Marriage Act still, technically, puts those state-recognized marriages of gay couples outside the bounds of federal law -- at least until the Supreme Court issues a ruling on a challenge to DOMA.

But I'm pretty sure AP intends to follow the lead of the particular states, and, overall, the new guidance seems eminently reasonable given the current state of things.



At 2/26/13, 11:16 AM, Blogger Kӓrin Radock said...

This is a really interesting post! I didn't hear about the AP's updated form of reference to individuals in same-sex couples until I read about it on your blog.

I think it's good that the AP can use the terms "husband" and "wife" for married same-sex couples, but I can understand how some people might be upset about having to have a "legally recognized marriage" in order to be referred to as either husband or wife.

I am a news editor for Framingham State University's independent student newspaper The Gatepost, in Framingham, MA, and will be creating my own blog about my job there soon. I plan on following your blog!

(Just so you know, particular is spelled incorrectly in the last paragraph of this post.)

- Kärin Radock

At 2/26/13, 11:19 AM, Blogger Doug said...

Thanks for the heads-up on the misspell. We all need an editor. :)


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