Afrer a week of controversy, the Associated Press on Thursday (21 February) said it will refer to married same-sex couples in a story the same way they do straight couples: ‘husband’ or ‘wife.’
The AP’s stylebook now states that ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ is ‘acceptable in any recognized legal marriage’ regardless of sexual orientation. They add that ‘spouse’ or ‘partner’ may be used if requested.
That’s different from the policy on an internal memo that was leaked last week. The memo stated that ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ was not an automatic for gay couples: ‘Generally AP uses couples or partners to describe people in civil unions or same-sex marriages.’
That drew outrage among LGBT activist groups who point out that same-sex marriage is now legal in nine US states as well as the District of Columbia.
The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) was among the critics and demanded to know in a public letter this week ‘What the hell is going on over on West 33rd Street?’
AP Senior Managing Editor for U.S. News Mike Oreskes now says in a statement: ‘The AP has never had a Stylebook entry on the question of the usage of husband and wife. All the previous conversation was in the absence of such a formal entry. This lays down clear and simple usage. After reviewing existing practice, we are formalizing ‘husband, wife’ as an entry.’
The news agency is owned by its contributing newspapers, radio and television stations in the United States.