In what had become a contentious issue among the journalism community and the LGBT community, the Associated Press has listened to concerned reporters and citizens demand the American wire service accept personal identities of gay and lesbian couples and their desire to be referred to as husband and wife.
In its online stylebook, the entry on the use of husband and wife now reads: “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 move comes after a week of controversy, after the wire service initially did not call on its reporters to use husband and wife when referring to gay couples, instead saying “partner” would be used for gay or lesbian relationships, even when they are married.
“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 stories with attribution. Generally AP uses couples or partners to describe people in civil unions or same-sex marriages,” read the initially internal memo on the subject to reporters.
The AP then changed its response, following criticism, to: “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.”
The move this week should alleviate much of the consternation among the LGBT community, who felt that the AP was not giving credence to self-described titles individuals give.
Commentators said the move should push the longest running wire service in the world into the modern era and give LGBT citizens equal weight in the reporting world.