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.

Feed This post's comment feed


  1. How is not calling a married same sex couple married fair? or just? or even credible? It's dubious and it's important we recognize it as such.

    Posted by: Pollack | Feb 12, 2013 10:54:21 PM

  2. Wait, so unless a MARRIED same sex couple explicitly requests it, they won't be addressed as married. But heterosexual married couples will universally be addressed as married across the board?
    And we're really trying to be sold on the idea that this isn't prejudice?
    AP isn't even attempting to hide their cards.

    Posted by: Mr.Austin505 | Feb 12, 2013 10:56:25 PM

  3. It's only uncomfortable with you referring to a married same sex couple as husband and husband because YOU yourself have unresolved internal homophobic issues. Maybe not extreme or outward but they are there. If you can comfortably express "they are married, husband and wife" but feel uncomfortable saying "they are married, that's his husband" then you have some soul searching to do, and should go inward and ask yourself why. But that same sex married couple is and will always be husband and husband, or wife and wife. Regardless of your discomforts and issues which need attending to.

    Posted by: Reality 411 | Feb 12, 2013 10:59:30 PM

  4. @ Robert

    There is no way you're gay. I would eat a hat if you were. EVERYTHING about your posts screamed straight privilege and ignorance toward gays. Every last sentence.

    Posted by: Jordan | Feb 12, 2013 11:05:26 PM

  5. If you are a married gay man and don't refer to your husband as a husband and continue to refer to him as your partner (because STRAIGHT ,often homophobic, people coined that term as acceptable to you) then you might wanna ask yourself why. It's pretty damn silly to me for any gay person to refer to their significant other as their partner. Silly and sad.

    Posted by: Greg Cali | Feb 12, 2013 11:07:11 PM

  6. A legally sanctioned spouse of a same sex individual IS their husband and wife, and every reason given as to why a same sex couple shouldn't be referred to as husband + husband or wife + wife are the EXACT reason (and I mean down to a tee) that the right wing argues gay couples should settle for civil unions as opposed to marriage.

    Every single last reason illustrated here about defining same sex couples as partners as opposed to married/husband/wife boil down to those exact same arguments those against gay couples being married express.

    It's fascinating that some of you have so much homophobia drilled in your own heads by those around you that you can't quite shake it off, and are unaware of perpetuating it.

    Posted by: Boston dude | Feb 12, 2013 11:13:20 PM

  7. Robert-
    You're about as gay as I am republican. In fact, everything you wrote in that drivel reminds me of the exact things my extremely homophobic, extremely religious, extremely conservative aunt used to argue against gay marriage. Down to some of the wording. Cryptic.

    Posted by: Josh | Feb 12, 2013 11:16:35 PM

  8. @ Andrew/UFFDA/David Hearne
    and your arguments in every single storyline on this site is how homophobia doesn't exist. You're a social conservative and a troll on here, and that you love using terms like "that's so gay!" with heterosexuals makes you unqualified to even comment on most articles on here. You're the classic case of bitter, jaded old gay man p-ssed off he can't get laid, so you take it out ont he gay community with bitter and subtle anti gay perspectives on here. So transparent.

    Posted by: T.J | Feb 12, 2013 11:21:48 PM

  9. I don't know a single gay couple who refers to their spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend as their partner. Not saying they don't exist, but of the dozens of gay couples we know, most completely resent or laugh at that term. Some would be highly offended to have their boyfriend or husband be referred to as their partner.

    Posted by: Don | Feb 12, 2013 11:23:36 PM

  10. I'm so sick of the word 'partner' being universally applied to gay couples? Eff that! And who even came up with that ridiculous label. You want to call the love of your life your partner....whatever. But this needs to stop being used as some appointed, and accepted term for gay couples. It's not accepted by many gay people I know, and it's ridiculous.

    Posted by: Cesar El Dia' | Feb 12, 2013 11:25:53 PM

  11. @Rrhain: read my comment again. I was referring to problems related to grammatical gender and ambiguous situations. If you say, "husband and wife", as opposed to "husband and husband" or "wife and wife", there can be some confusion when possessive adjectives are used. If you used "husband and wife" to refer to a gay couple, the sentence, "my wife ate his lunch" could be very easily misinterpreted, particularly if someone skimming an article did not realize that the article was about a same-sex couple.

    If you used the phrase "husband and husband" or "wife and wife", this grammatical problem is avoided, but "husband and wife" or "man and wife" is often used as an idiom. My guess is that the AP simply wants to set stylistic guidelines for purposes of clarity. They'll probably revisit it if other terminology becomes widely accepted.

    Posted by: Bill | Feb 12, 2013 11:27:19 PM

  12. @ Joboland
    You summed it up pretty perfectly.

    Posted by: 2 Dads | Feb 12, 2013 11:31:52 PM

  13. Jobooland for the win.

    Posted by: Duration & Convexity | Feb 12, 2013 11:32:14 PM

  14. I'm a married gay man with a husband. Proud of it. Proud to hold his hand. Proud to introduce him as my husband. Proud of our relationship. Proud of the courage it takes to have our relationship in this kind of society. And proud again to be his husband.
    If someone called the love of my life and my husband a partner, we'd probably have some problems, and I'd take a few minutes in my day to educate them that not all gay people take kindly to that word being used as a substitute. especially married gay folks like myself.

    Posted by: Felix M. | Feb 12, 2013 11:41:25 PM

  15. Those who argue that gay couples are different than straight couples and should be directed as such......uhm, that's the verbatim argument anti gay conservatives make against the word marriage for gay couples.

    The people arguing that gay couples are different and should find it acceptable to be called partners instead of husband/wife are making the EXACT arguments bigots make against us using the word marriage. exact arguments. Heck, I'm confused why those folks wouldn't align themselves with the conservative brigade and oppose the word marriage for gay couples. Your arguments match the conservative argument against the word marriage for gays down to your reasonings. In fact, if I didn't know any better, I'd assume those making these arguments were themselves.....

    Posted by: TX Idol | Feb 12, 2013 11:44:42 PM

  16. I think a lot of the pro AP comments are coming from ratbastard and Rick. Just a big hunch. No self respecting gay person would say something like:
    "well, like it or not, gay relationships ARE different than straight relationship, so there's really nothing wrong with calling the spouse different names"
    I mean that's the literal argument used against usage of the word marriage for gay couples.
    Trolls, ya gotta do better. You are too obvious.

    Posted by: Long time lurker | Feb 13, 2013 12:35:53 AM

  17. A married gay man has a HUSBAND. A married gay women has a WIFE. Only conservatives (including conservative gays who want us to be respectful of the heterosexual hierarchy) adopt "str8 friendly" terms like -partner- to qualify their relationships.
    Well adjusted gays are married with a husband or a wife, not a partner.

    Posted by: Hunington Beach | Feb 13, 2013 1:31:04 AM

  18. Regarding the question, "WTF does “those involved” mean?" .... I think it means those involved in the "AP content" - i.e., those who involved in whatever the AP was reporting, and the marriage could be incidental to the story.

    Hopefully the AP is simply expressing uncertainty as to what terminology to use at a point in time where there is not yet a firm social consensus. Certainly, many married gay men would use "husband", but possibly some use "spouse". One issue might be that because of the traditional phrase "husband and wife", the use of "husband" could be interpreted to mean an asymmetrical arrangement in which one person in the marriage has a higher status, a vestige of past gender discrimination. That is perhaps a somewhat strained interpretation, but people who are very PC tend to worry about such things.

    Regardless, eventually they should sort it all out and come up with something that everyone is happy with.

    Posted by: Bill | Feb 13, 2013 1:55:13 AM

  19. I don't know many gay married couples who take issue with their spouse being called their husband or wife.

    I do know quite a number of gay married couples who resent and have great disdain for the term 'partners' many of whom give very valid reasons as to why they hate it.

    Posted by: Joseph | Feb 13, 2013 3:53:53 AM

  20. @ Bill
    whether there's firm social concensus or not about me being married...I couldn't give two flying f--ks. I'm married. I'm legally married. And frankly, you attempting to infer I shouldn't be labeled as such nor my husband deemed my husband because of lack of consensus amongst the population is both insulting and against everything our LGBT movement has worked for. We don't stand in the corner in silence begging to get permission as to what we call our relationships. No sir.

    Posted by: Happily married to a HUSBAND | Feb 13, 2013 3:57:03 AM

  21. Husband and Husband.

    Wife and wife.

    His husband.

    Her wife.

    Sally and Amber; a married couple.

    Joe and Steven; a married couple.

    There. That wasn't so hard. (Gasp) Gays are getting married in 2013. It's happening. Clutch your pearls and vocabulary, we're getting married. No partners need not apply.

    Posted by: Korosh | Feb 13, 2013 4:00:27 AM

  22. "I could never be with a man who refers to me as his "partner"
    That right there would be the demise of our relationship."

    LOL! Exactly why you're single.

    Posted by: ripper | Feb 13, 2013 12:13:19 PM

  23. @Happily married to a HUSBAND: you missed the point. Towleroad's article asked the question, "Why does it matter if gay people uses the terms husband and wife to define their legal marriage." I was pointing out that there were merely some cases where readers could be confused if they did not realize that one was referring to a same-sex couple. Regardless of what terminology people use in general, the AP is going to want stylistic guidelines that make clarity the highest priority. So, if you refer to the person you married as your husband, it could be pretty clear, but if someone reads the sentence "Smith's husband encouraged Smith to play rugby," someone might think that sounded very odd under an erroneous assumption that Smith is a woman. Even if the article indicated that it was a same-sex marriage, many people skim over articles and might not notice.

    Now, you can argue that the AP did not quite get it right, but a goal of avoiding ambiguous or inadvertently misleading phrases is a reasonable one for a news organization.

    Posted by: Bill | Feb 13, 2013 9:39:20 PM

  24. « 1 2 3

Post a comment


« «eHarmony CEO Neil Clark Warren Had to Hire Guards Because of 'Angry' Anti-Gay Christians: VIDEO« «