Illustration by NHM

Illustration by NHM

The Associated Press (AP) has announced that it will now be using terms like “husband” and “wife” to describe all individuals in any legally recognized marriage – gay and straight alike. “Spouse or partner may be used if requested,” they have said in a recent statement. But when it comes to marriage, all persons – at least according to the AP – will be treated equally.

“The AP has never had a Stylebook entry on the question of the usage of husband and wife,” says the AP Senior Managing Editor for U.S. News – Mike Oreskes. “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.”

If you’re wondering what the big deal could possibly be about grammar cues and word trends, keep in mind that the AP is the go-to guide for most style-related press questions. And in typical follow the leader fashion, the way LGBT issues are handled in mainstream media can come down to what the AP has to say about it. And in this case, legal same-sex marriage is being treated the same as traditional marriage always has been – which signals what could be a big step for many couples whose stories are landing in newspapers, magazines and on blogs around the world.

Late last year, the AP also said it would stop using words like “homophobia,” citing that such words ending with “phobia” (denoting disease or fear) inadequately describe anti-gay viewpoints in political and cultural context.

What do you think? Would you want your spouse to be referred to as a husband or wife? And are you sad to see “homophobia” go?


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