Gay Marriage | News

AP Restricts Use of 'Husband' and 'Wife' to Married Hetero Couples

According to a new memo from the AP, the words "husband" and "wife" should only be used to describe married gay couples if the couples themselves describe themselves that way, or if someone uses the term in a quote, Romenesko reports.

The AP memo: Ap

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.

Asks John Aravosis:

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.

WTF does “those involved” mean?  It’s a marriage.  It’s not an involvement.

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  1. Wait, first they ban the word "homophobia" and now they restrict the use of 'Husband' and 'Wife' to hetero couples?

    What is going on at AP?

    Posted by: Peter M. | Feb 12, 2013 5:04:57 PM

  2. Let's not forget that the AP also doesn't believe homophobia exists since they banned the word.

    Posted by: Joseph Singer | Feb 12, 2013 5:10:50 PM

  3. AP banned the word homophobia because they felt it had become a loaded, politicized word without power. They've replaced it with anti-gay or simply bigot. I honestly can't disagree with them on that. Homophobia is overused as a term.

    Posted by: Francis | Feb 12, 2013 5:25:53 PM

  4. AP banned the word homophobia because they felt it had become a loaded, politicized word without power. They've replaced it with anti-gay or simply bigot. I honestly can't disagree with them on that. Homophobia is overused as a term.

    Posted by: Francis | Feb 12, 2013 5:25:53 PM

  5. AP - anti-progress

    Posted by: Randy | Feb 12, 2013 5:45:22 PM

  6. Frankly, I think this is a good thing. Many legally married same-sex couples still refer to their spouse as "partner" rather than "husband" or "wife." They do so for a variety of reasons. For some it's a political statement, rejecting heteronormativity. For others it's to recognize the legitimacy of their pre-marriage commitment to each other. For many others, they've just been referring to the other as partner for so long that they don't see a reason to change that now.

    The AP's policy recognizes the diversity of opinions regarding marriage within our community. No one is saying that you can't refer to your spouse as husband or wife. I wish these moderate-to-conservative gays would stop trying to force their labels onto everyone else and let everyone define themselves.

    Posted by: John | Feb 12, 2013 5:55:46 PM

  7. Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but gay marriages AREN'T equal to straight marriages. Perhaps you've heard of this thing called DOMA? Even in states which recognize same-sex marriages, they still aren't recognized at the federal level and thus not equal.

    In this time of transition, it is perfectly legitimate that AP, a national news service that sets rules journalists in every state follow, uses the terms that the couple themselves use to describe themselves.

    Posted by: ripper | Feb 12, 2013 6:18:13 PM

  8. Wouldn't it be great if you never got the opportunity to use husband and wife at all? The hetero hijack would be legally prevented. I suggest trying to get wrestling reinstated in the Olympics--we're being deprived of eye the Boyscout outrage.. We need a Gay Rage Drone! Indignant power!

    Posted by: GB | Feb 12, 2013 6:27:23 PM

  9. In addition for all you who think it progressive or hip for AP to discriminate (cause what they are really doing is allowing couples to make a statement in "rejecting heteronormativity) are delusional.

    Some of you would think that if someone were to come up to you on the street and called you a f@ggo! to your FACE you'd think they were just working out a comedy routine.

    Yeah the AP....working for Equality.

    Posted by: MCnNYC | Feb 12, 2013 8:07:53 PM

  10. Tell you what: from now on I'd like to see Andy and john A refer to AP "reporters".
    Perhaps even The Associated "Press"and we'll just kind of take their word for it.

    Posted by: MCnNYC | Feb 12, 2013 8:12:05 PM

  11. This is the epitome of homophobia. An unfair, unbalanced method in identifying LEGALLY married gay couples is flawed and deservedly should be called out.

    AP has completely undermined it's own credibility.

    Posted by: LazerLight | Feb 12, 2013 8:18:40 PM

  12. This certainly is ridiculous. Unless a married gay couple identifies themselves as a married couple, they won't be referred to as such? Why? Because you feel they are inferior, clearly, and don't view their mandated legal marriages as legit.
    AP should definitely be held accountable for this.

    Posted by: Scott Johansen | Feb 12, 2013 8:20:01 PM

  13. This is the third story in a few months that has made clear the AP is identifiably bias against gay couples, gay parents, and gay individuals.
    Three strikes and you're out!

    Posted by: Observer | Feb 12, 2013 8:21:14 PM

  14. Well move a few more chairs on this deck and AP will start looking pretty good. Still sinking though like all other paper based oraganizations...

    Posted by: ted | Feb 12, 2013 8:23:23 PM

  15. If the same sex couple is married, they are married. The AP refusing to acknowledge them as that unless told to is highly suspect as best, and anti gay at worst.
    No spinning that.

    Posted by: Steve-ATL | Feb 12, 2013 8:25:07 PM

  16. Some gay people truly can't recognize anti gay prejudice if it hits them in the face. AP not pegging gay married couples as married couples, and instead, just couples is not meant for the consideration of other gays. They are doing so because they clearly feel gay marriage isn't real marriage, even if it's recognized as such. It's another attempt to outcast gay married couples as not a legitimate marriage. It's unfair in every sense of the ....word.

    Posted by: Mark | Feb 12, 2013 8:29:20 PM

  17. I just want to remind everyone that not everything is the worst and not everyone is out to get you.

    It's pretty clear that this policy is about respecting the titles used by individuals, and not making assumptions about individuals' relationships. It also seems like a pretty generous policy that encourages writers not to risk outing individuals in same-sex relationships who for whatever reason would like to refer to their partner as a partner and not specify the gender of the person they're seeing.

    I'm sorry so many of you--including the person who wrote the headline--go through life assuming that everyone is trying to screw you over. I imagine many of you (like me) are quite privileged.

    Posted by: Andrew | Feb 12, 2013 8:30:47 PM

  18. They're going to reserve the word marriage for heterosexual married couples and only use it in certain cases of same sex married couples and people are going to argue that's not homophobic? Really? It reminds me of stories of restuarants refusing service to gay couples, and same said people saying "well, the restaurant has a right to refuse service to gay couples. It's their religious freedoms. Gays should go elsewhere"

    Self hate is a disease y'all.

    Posted by: Real Talk | Feb 12, 2013 8:30:58 PM

  19. No, if I'm a married gay man in Vermont, you call me and my husband married. When you knowingly don't do that, you're no better than NOM in my book.
    Save the crap. A bigot is a bigot is a bigot, and refusing to accept and print a gay married union as a gay married union is exercising a partial POV.

    Posted by: 2 Dads | Feb 12, 2013 8:32:19 PM

  20. How and why do gay people accept the term partners? It's so .....gross. And watered down. And apologetic.

    I could never be with a man who refers to me as his "partner"
    That right there would be the demise of our relationship. I'm not your partner. Never was, never will be. I'm in a relationship with you. As your man. Be it husband or boyfriend. Call me your 'partner' and we're over.

    Posted by: Carlos | Feb 12, 2013 8:34:09 PM

  21. I love when the apologist crowd turns every vivid incident of anti-gay bias into a watered down narrative, where the anti-gay party is actually pro gay.

    Sorry but homophobia DOES exist. It's okay to face that fact and acknowledge bias against our community when you spot it.

    Treating married gay couples as 'others' is as fine of an example as ani-gay bias as I've ever seen.

    A gay man who contributed a great deal to his community, is tax paying, and married and is having an article highlighted about his contributions shouldn't have his lover referred to as his partner-----WHEN THEY ARE MARRIED.

    To even suggest that's okay is o *completely* utterly miss the whole point of why we're fighting for marriage equality. Remember? the equality of it and our relationships being treated on equal footing? Remember that little anecdote?

    Posted by: Duration & Convexity | Feb 12, 2013 8:40:25 PM

  22. LOL @ the person who suggested the AP is doing this out of consideration for gay people who can't get married. SMH.
    good God. take the rose colored glasses off buddy. the world isn't a disney animation, and not every character in it comes from a place of good. Sometimes people show their @$$. Associated Press is doin' just that here.

    Posted by: Kevin Alonso | Feb 12, 2013 8:42:38 PM

  23. Bull!

    A same sex married union in those 10 states where we through hell to enable them is a married couple and should be both treated as one and called one.

    Posted by: JP | Feb 12, 2013 8:43:50 PM

  24. It would be interesting to know who wrote the memos regarding "homophobia" and now "husband or wife" in regard to gays, and that person's political affiliation and background. I can see some logic to these decisions, but it's also possible there's an underlying political/social agenda.

    Is a reporter supposed to ASK each couple how they refer to each other and use that term, or only use it IF it comes up during the interview? It seems rather arbitrary, if so, but as someone else said it may be a transitional issue. Personally, if I were married I don't know that I would refer to my spouse as my "husband." That word just seems loaded to me, carrying a lot of cultural baggage. (It's also possible that all that baggage is my own.)

    I'd like to think that eventually language will evolve to at least offer other options, better words than "partner" or "boyfriend."

    Posted by: Caliban | Feb 12, 2013 8:57:34 PM

  25. My problem is, now looking back, a married couple isn't "couples or partners". They're husbands or wives. They're married. Now, while it is true DOMA is on the books and most states don't have equality. That doesn't mean that legally married couples are not truly husband/husband or wife/wife. They are. That shouldn't have to be asked. The same way one wouldn't ask straight couples about that, even IF they preferred to be identified as spouses. I doubt AP will start calling married heterosexual couples partners if they're husband and wife.

    It's very suspect. I want to hear an explanation first before I get out the pitchfork. I would probably be more upset if they had categorically said we would not call same-sex married couples husbands or wives.

    Posted by: Francis | Feb 12, 2013 9:09:13 PM

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