AP OKs 'husband,' 'wife' for same-sex couples

Associated Press | Los Angeles Times

The Associated Press has updated its Stylebook:

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.

The news co-op kicked a hornets nest last month when it issued a style memo saying "partner" was the right way to refer to members of married same-sex couples.

"The AP has never had a Stylebook entry on the question of the usage of husband and wife," said AP Senior Managing Editor for U.S. News Mike Oreskes in a release sent to Poynter. "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."

"[T]hose who get married have already decided about terminology," Nathaniel Frank wrote in a piece published in the Los Angeles Times Thursday. "AP's job is to reflect this reality without hesitation. Anything else is editorializing."

John Aravosis reported last week that AP reporter David Crary had said he wouldn't abide by the previous style guidance: "I will continue to depict them on equal terms, linguistically and otherwise, with heterosexual married couples, with no hesitation about using husband and wife in the cases where that’s the appropriate term."

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at TBD.com and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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