The Associated Press, which angered some LGBT people recently with its ban on the word “homophobia,” now is decreeing that in most circumstances, it won’t refer to members of married same-sex couples as husbands or wives.
Media blogger Jim Romenesko today published an internal AP memo saying that “husband” or “wife,” in reference to same-sex couples, “may be used in AP stories with attribution,” adding, “Generally AP uses couples or partners to describe people in civil unions or same-sex marriages.” Quickly, an AP spokesman sent Romenesko a revised memo with somewhat more restrictive guidelines, saying, “Such terms may be used in AP content if those involved have regularly used those terms … or in quotes attributed to them,” and repeating, “Generally AP uses couples or partners to describe people in civil unions or same-sex marriages.”
The report drew criticism from commenters on Romenesko’s blog and elsewhere. At Gawker, Robert Kessler wrote, “This particular style choice makes a jarring ‘separate but equal’ standard for married couples. As we learned with segregation, a separate standard is inherently unequal.”
Most U.S. newspapers follow AP guidelines for style and usage, although it’s also common for them to ignore at least a few of the AP edicts. The Advocate, by the way, has its own stylebook and set of standards.