AP bans use of words “husband,” “wife” for legally-wed gay couples

UPDATE: VICTORY! AP has corrected its error, and created a new styleguide entry recognizing that the legal marriages of gay couples are just as much “marriages” as legal marriages of straight couples.

UPDATE: There appears to be open dissension at the Associated Press (AP) over the media entity’s new policy, announced yesterday, not to necessarily refer to legally-wed gay couples in the same way they refer to legally-wed straight ones. A lead AP reporter covering LGBT issues, David Crary, has said that he won’t follow the new policy.

Shortly after an internal AP memo banning the use of the words “husband” and “wife” for legally-wed gay couples was leaked, AP changed its story – they think they fixed the problem.  They most certainly did not.  AP even tweeted me that it’s fixed:

Screen Shot 2013-02-12 at 1.50.34 PM

But it’s not fixed at all.

Now AP has a ban on the terms husband and wife for gay couples unless the couples use the term about themselves.  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.

From AP’s memo:

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.

That, my friends, is still a ban.  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. It’s almost as if AP is squeamish, or somehow, uncomfortable with the notion that a man might marry another man, even though it’s now legal in many states and countries.  So they keep searching for euphemisms.

And what about this:

Generally AP uses couples or partners to describe people in civil unions or same-sex marriages.

gay marriage

Gay marriage via Shutterstock

So clearly AP is admitting that it has a different standard for legally-wed gay couples than it has for legally-wed straight couples.  What possible reason does AP have?  Marriage is not a federal issue, it’s a state issue – states decide who is married.  The feds can say they’re not going to give benefits, but they don’t overrule the state’s marriage – gays are still married in those states, just as straight people arte.  Who is AP to say they don’t agree with the states’ legal determination as to who is married?

AP is overruling the 9 states and the District of Columbia that have legal marriages for gay couples. AP says no.  They’re not really marriages.

And what about foreign marriages?  Same-sex couples can marry in a growing number of countries now. AP has also decided that they’re not really married either.

What business is it of the Associated Press to determine that it doesn’t believe legally wed gay couples, in the US or abroad, are actually legally wed?

Does the AP now think DOMA applies to it too?

It was one thing for the AP to recently ban the use of the word “homophobia.”  I was agnostic on that one (though I’m starting to reconsider whether that too was motivated by anti-gay animus – it sure is suspicious that suddenly AP is on a gay-banning bandwagon).  But for the AP to officially decide that it doesn’t consider gay men and women legally married, when they are, is abominable, biased, and yellow journalism.

It isn’t the Associated Press’ job to overrule the courts and legislatures in 9 American states, and numerous foreign countries.  Last time I checked, it’s states that determine who is legally married in America, not the Associated Press.

As one reader put it:

Screen Shot 2013-02-12 at 3.54.05 PM

UPDATE: Gay media monitoring group GLAAD has now weighed in, pretty much agreeing with our, and others’, analysis:

The third sentence is where the AP has received the most criticism. [AP’s third sentence: “Generally AP uses couples or partners to describe people in civil unions or same-sex marriages.”] The words “partner” and “couple” are technically and legally accurate to describe same-sex couples who are in Civil Unions, and this already states that AP will call those couples husbands and/or wives if they refer to themselves as such. But those terms are absolutely not appropriate to describe same-sex couples who are married, and this sentence seems to be saying that AP actually prefers them. This sentence, if taken literally as written, implies a value judgement on the part of AP — that same-sex marriages “generally” need vocabulary that differentiates them from opposite-sex marriages, and that said vocabulary should consist of words that also apply to unmarried couples. …

UPDATE: Here’s Romanesko’s piece that seems to be quasi-missing from his site at the moment:

Screen Shot 2013-02-13 at 2.16.30 PM

CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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167 Responses to “AP bans use of words “husband,” “wife” for legally-wed gay couples”

  1. pepjrp says:

    Oh stop it, you’re so dern mean.

  2. josephpoole says:

    Yawn. Take your hackneyed left wing same-sex entitlement agenda someplace where the moon don’t shine. tncdel’s logic is unassailable: marry a woman if you are man; if you don’t want to, don’t make it our problem.

  3. William Frederick says:

    Poor manners?! On THE INTERNET?!? No way!

    Anyhow, from the original article: “We were asked how to report about same-sex couples who call themselves “husband” and ‘wife.'”

    So, uhm, yeah. Maybe read the article before responding to others with such vitriol? Probably a good place to start.

    p.s. LOL, I got to post the exact same response to two people. That’s a first.

  4. William Frederick says:

    Poor manners?! On THE INTERNET?!? No way!

    Anyhow, from the original article: “We were asked how to report about same-sex couples who call themselves “husband” and ‘wife.'”

    So, uhm, yeah. Maybe read the article before responding to others with such vitriol? Maybe a good place to start.

  5. hate is taught, love is natural.

    This will prob never happen but what if all the soldiers threw down their guns and began to make out with one another.

  6. Good for him. Dont know about my 10 year old grandaughter – never queeried on that one but she does have friends with two mommies.

    Sometimes I wonder if the anti gays marriage crowd is afradi that gays will expose the str8s as the true molesters of the institution – fcuking it with their 50% divorce rate.

  7. Thom Watson says:

    Sawdy, if you are a male spouse, you are a husband, by definition. If you are a female spouse, you are a wife, by definition. I mean that literally; the dictionary — and the law — defines “husband” as a male spouse. There’s nothing discriminatory in such a statement. If you don’t consider yourself a husband and don’t want to be called that, that’s fine; but by legal definition, you still are.

    The AP is hardly non-judgmental about this. It is, in fact, the opposite of non-judgmental. It has judged that same-sex married couples will be referred to as couples or partners, unless a specific and documented case is made otherwise, but that opposite-sex married couples always will be referred to as husbands and wives, regardless of whether they use those terms themselves or even if they hate those terms.

    Why is it only judgmental, in your opinion, when the AP forces a legal and dictionary definition on opposite-sex spouses, but okay for them not to force such a legal and dictionary definition on same-sex spouses, going so far as not even to permit using such terms unless they have evidence the spouses already use them?

    The discrimination is not mine; it is the AP’s in applying the legal and dictionary definitions /always/ when referring to opposite-sex married couples, but only /sometimes/ — and against the AP’s stated preference to use couples or partners instead — when referring to same-sex married couples. I really don’t get how this is so hard to understand.

  8. sawdy19 says:

    You are absolutely wrong and my partner and I are living proof. I am no ones Husband. Please don’t label me and my relationship just as you would object to others placing their labels on you. By doing so you do the very same thing; discriminate, that you accuse others of. At least the AP is non-judgmental and open enough to allow me to determine what I prefer to be called.

  9. sawdy19 says:

    Very well said. My point exactly.

  10. Sawdy19 says:

    Those looking to be offended will be offended. My partner and I have been together for 35 years and married for 6. We refer to each other as “my partner” and not “husband”. When someone uses the term “husband”, I don’t get my tits in a knot over it but simply correct them to the terminology we prefer. It seems these days that everyone is looking to be offended by something: political correctness on steroids.

  11. TribeofLiberty says:

    ANY couple married in a state that removed the civil recognition of brides and grooms should be called partners. That is the change those people wanted, so it should apply to them all, both straight couples and gay couples.

    Why pretend that the civil recognition of brides and grooms still exists in those states? It does not. The problem with the AP is NOT that they went too far with their new guidelines, it’s that they did not go far enough.

    Some in the gay community are protesting the AP’s guidelines, saying that they should use husband and wife for ALL couples, but this is not consistent with their support of the very changes that removed the civil recognition of brides and grooms. I say, let the gay community lead by example, and let them insist that ALL couples follow what the law actually says. All married couples in those states are partners (or parties, or applicants). Why do they resist the very change they fought for?

    The civil recognition of brides and grooms no longer exists in those states. We would all be better served to stop pretending that it does.

  12. irkitated says:

    I am entitled to have an opinion on absolutely anything i want to and as a working member of the media I am more than entitled to an opinion on this. Not that i have to justify myself to you.

    And before you label me a homophobe or something similar as im sure that is likely to be your next resort… I have absolutely no problem with gay people and a large number of gay friends including a couple of my best mates.

    Now lets go back to my original comment which was about political correctness and people taking things out of context. YOU sir are a prime example of this.

    If anybody here is a troll it is you and have better things to with my time than waste it arguing with you. I would call you a dickhead but you would probably go out on a crazy rampage and see it as an all out attack on your sexuality.

    And the blog is light-hearted entertainment… Maybe you should stop taking things in life so seriously and stop trying to create issues where there isn’t an issue. Try see things for what they are.

  13. Skeptical Cicada says:

    Boo hoo. Still pouting.

  14. Skeptical Cicada says:

    It is code, and you used it precisely that way.

  15. Skeptical Cicada says:

    Yawn. Take your hackneyed right-wing propaganda to a site with people stupid enough to fall for it.

    Same-sex marriage is already legal in 9 states, DC, and a dozen countries. We’ll have the word marriage, just like our heterosexual equals, but thanks for playing, troll.

  16. EdA says:

    Actually, most gay people have no problem at all getting the terms correct.

  17. EdA says:

    Um, that may be YOUR definition, but YOUR definition is binding on no one. The Mormon definition, which Mitt Romney dishonestly disavows, historically has been between one man and one woman … and another woman … and another woman …..

    As has been pointed out by many people for many years, if you don’t believe in same-sex marriage, don’t marry someone of the same sex. If you don’t believe in interracial marriage, don’t marry someone of a different race. But in reality the way that two consenting adults choose to live their lives together has zero impact whatsoever on your own personal marriage.

  18. BillStewart2012 says:

    Opposite-sex couples often aren’t married. They’re only “husband and wife” if they are, and it’s often awkward to refer to them that way if they’re not married.

    It used to be that gay couples didn’t have the choice of being married, and the AP was ahead of the curve by at least describing them as couples or partners. Now the AP seems to be saying that they’re not going to presume that they’re married unless they say they are. Seems fine to me.

  19. tncdel says:

    Gay marriage is an impossibility by definition. By definition, marriage is solely between a man and a woman.

    And a homosexual man has the EXACT SAME RIGHT under the Constitution as does a heterosexual man, no more, no less, to marry a woman. But the fact that he does not wish to avail himself of that right, which is certainly his prerogative, doesn’t create for him another right; namely: to change the heterosexual definition of marriage handed down to us by our ancestors.

    Someone posturing about “gay marriage” is sailing under a false flag built upon an invalid premise.

    And what they are really talking about is changing the heterosexual definition of marriage to include something else.

    I’m not into mysticism, so I have no religious axe to grind against homosexuals. Let each state decide as to whether or not it allows homosexual civil unions with the same legal obligations as a marriage. Just don’t call it something it’s not. And if homosexuals don’t like the sound of the term “civil union,” fine, they should invent their own word for their own type of relationships. Surely they don’t lack enough imagination to do that, right?

  20. karmanot says:

    Just can’t help yourself from being snotty and nasty can you? What in the hell is the matter with you? You’ve got the smarts to share, but the personality of an insect….opps, just answered my own question.

  21. irkitated says:

    It isn’t code for anything at all… I was making a blanket statement about political correctness in general. This is exactly the problem… People looking to far into things and making an issue when there isn’t an issue.

    Now crawl back into your hole cicada

  22. Skeptical Cicada says:

    There’s this thing at the top of pages called a title. Go check out the one on this site. It’s a comment board about gay issues.

  23. Skeptical Cicada says:

    Mocking objections as “political correctness” is code for saying, “shut up, minority, and stay in your place.”

  24. Skeptical Cicada says:


  25. Skeptical Cicada says:

    Imbecile, the issue is AP refusing to call two married men each other’s husbands or to call two married women each other’s wives.

    When you don’t have a fucking clue what you’re even talking about, you need to get your head out of your ass and get the fuck over it.

  26. Skeptical Cicada says:

    There is no more reason to ban marital terms for everyone when they can simply be extended to gays and lesbians.

    If you think contractual arrangements can cover all the legal rights you need for personal and financial security, you seriously need to see a lawyer quickly.

  27. Skeptical Cicada says:

    Imbecile, this about refusing to call legally married men “husbands” or legally married women “wives” if they’re gay. It has nothing to do with one man wanting to be called a “wife.”

  28. Skeptical Cicada says:

    It is not oversensitive to object when the AP issues a memo declaring that the marriages of same-sex spouses are to be disregarded and the spouses are to be called by the non-marital term “partners” unless they specifically tell the reporter to use a marital term.

    Wow, way to dismiss bigotry.

  29. Skeptical Cicada says:


  30. Stev84 says:

    Aside from strict legal situations, there is absolutely nothing that prevents people in civil unions and domestic partnerships from calling each other husbands or wives in everyday conversations. Just because you can’t use the word on a legal form, doesn’t mean you can’t introduce someone as your husband. And I have a feeling this is something of an Americanism. In Britain for example, people in civil partnerships don’t necessarily default to “partner”.

  31. Stev84 says:

    Buy a brain, moron. It’s not about gender roles. Nobody is saying that one has to be the husband and one the wife. They’re both husbands.

  32. irkitated says:

    Because I have my opinion that doesn’t make me a troll. I also didn’t say shut up, or say anything about minorities.

  33. Morey Soffo says:

    In the state of Illinois, the use of the term “spouse” is specifically forbidden by law in a civil union. Blame the legislature in Springfield for this one.

  34. EdA says:

    For what (little) it’s worth, sent to the AP:

    Dear Mr. Colford,

    I am perturbed and disturbed that after eight hundred years of
    constant, consistent use in the English language, the Associated Press
    has suddenly and inexplicably become confused as to the definition of
    “husband” and “wife.”

    Historically, a man who is in a legally recognized marriage is called
    a “husband,” and a woman is called a “wife,” in all known forms of the
    English language, regardless of dialect, and customarily this usage
    also applies to people in religiously recognized marriages, regardless
    of whether those marriages happen to be legally recognized in
    particular jurisdictions. For example, I assume that even though
    President Obama’s parents could not be legally married in a score of
    states at the time he was born, even in the former slave states of the
    Confederacy the AP would have referred to Barack Obama Sr. as the
    husband of Ann Dunham and to Ann Dunham as the wife of Barack Obama,
    Sr. There is no justification whatsoever for referring to spouses in
    same-sex marriages differently from the way that spouses in
    opposite-sex marriages are referred to — except for homophobia.

    And I realize that although the AP does apparently continue to accept
    xenophobia, you have tossed homophobia, although notoriously both
    xenophobia and homophobia result not only in mere antipathy and
    nastiness towards members of the disfavored groups, but also in
    physical violence, up to and including legalized/legitimized mass

    Looking forward to your response, and trusting that the AP will
    reconsider a policy that is irrational on its face and grotesque if
    one looks more deeply,

  35. Morey Soffo says:

    In the state of Illinois, the word “spouse” is specifically banned by law from being used for a civil union, so here is a place where the AP could run into trouble. Blame the Springfield legislature for this one.

  36. Morey Soffo says:

    Until we were allowed a Civil Union, we referred to each other as “companion.” After the Civil Union, we were legally “partners.” Now that we are married, we are husbands. It’s that simple. What other choices are there? Language has not yet caught up.

  37. I just refer to ’em all as ‘sodomites,’ and it does not a marriage make.

  38. See, homophobes, it’s not gays you have to worry about turning your kids into faYXots, it’s the spineless media.

  39. Wow, way to be oversensitive about it. The AP is just trying to figure out who gets called what. You may feel that both spouses in a lesbian marriage are called “wives”, but you know what, John, you’re not a lesbian.

  40. William Frederick says:

    Okay, maybe I don’t see the problem with using “partner” as an umbrella term. For instance, if you have a couple of gay men, and they don’t identify who is the “husband” and who is the “wife”, how is the reporter supposed to know which is which?

    This kinda seems like someone trying to pick a fight where there isn’t any conflict or insult to begin with.

  41. Marky Mark says:

    That’s just ridiculous. C’mon!

  42. Moderator4 says:

    He was flogging his own blog, Skeptical Cicada. He is out of here.

  43. Stev84 says:

    And another braindead idiot who misses the point

  44. Victor says:

    Okay, let’s just ban the words, husband and wife, for everyone. Now, I don’t want to offend my gay friends, who are apparently the biggest supporters of that horrendous institution known as slavery — oops, I mean, marriage — but I will never, ever make the mistake of getting married. Staying with my “significant other” in a loving relationship is good enough for me, and, if our relationship calls for it, we can always make any contractual arrangements between us, as we see fit! Peace!

  45. dsifso says:

    You can call Dahveed a troll…but why is this a gay comment board. So any blog written by a gay man is a gay blog? Only gay people should care about this issue?

  46. Daniel Cheshire says:

    It’s okay to say ‘fag’, ‘queer’ or ‘homo’, though. It’s all just a point of spreading more homophobia. People will say whatever they want and the news can report it however slanted they want.

  47. Vince says:

    I’m gay, married, and we are “husbands”. What’s the big deal?

  48. Algrokoz says:

    Husband and Wife are gender positive terms. Who is the “wife” in a marriage between two men? The bottom? What if they change it up? Why the fuck are we even having this conversation? The AP bans the use of gender-linked words that DO NOT APPLY in the new situation. Get the fuck over it.

  49. Skeptical Cicada says:

    LOL! Exactly, NCMan!

  50. Skeptical Cicada says:

    If you are married to her, the accurate words in English are actually wife and spouse. If you’d like to opt out of them and use non-marital terminology, the AP should allow you to do that. But the default rule should not be to use terms that erase the marriages of gay spouses.

  51. joan says:

    I hate the word “wife” and would never refer to myself or my partner that way. To my ears is sounds demeaning. And when I was married to a man, he and I both decided it sounded icky and wouldn’t use it. It always seemed anti-feminist to me.

  52. Skeptical Cicada says:


  53. StoneScribe says:

    Why don’t we call the two parties in any marriage–straight or gay–spouses? A spouse can be male or female. This whole flap reminds me of what happened regarding references to women in the 1970s. The AP and newspapers used to insist that a woman’s marital status be clear by referring to her as Miss or Mrs. when men were just called by their last names. To avoid having to change, the august New York Times decided to use a courtesy title for everyone, including men. But the AP and most other newspapers eventually just started to refer to women by their last names, too–no courtesy title. As I stated long and loudly many times in the newsrooms where I worked, if a man’s marital status is not germane to the story, neither is a woman’s. Just refer to the marriage partner of everyone as a spouse, and the problem is resolved.

  54. Skeptical Cicada says:

    First of all, Massachusetts has never enacted a law to authorize gender-neutral marriage. And the law under which you would get your license uses the words husband, wife, and spouse. It does not use the word “partner” to describe spouses. Indeed, your state high court rejected as unconstitutional the idea of giving gay couples a separate legal status. If you didn’t like husband or spouse, you shouldn’t get married.

  55. Skeptical Cicada says:

    It’s interesting the rationalizations that bigoted trolls come up with–as is their need to troll gay comment boards.

  56. Skeptical Cicada says:

    And you realize that that it NOT what the AP guidance says, right? It says that when the reporter does not hear what word a MARRIED gay couple uses, the reporter is required to use a NON-MARITAL word to describe them. When they got married, they chose words. Those words are husband, wife, and spouse, not “partner.”

  57. Skeptical Cicada says:

    Oh, look, a troll, using the code words for “shut up, minority, and stay in your place.”

  58. Skeptical Cicada says:

    Mocking bigot. I stopped reading after your insulting opening paragraph. The AP guidance doesn’t even allow use of the word “spouse”–the correct legal term.

  59. Skeptical Cicada says:

    No, the AP guidance says that if a gay couple is MARRIED, they are to be referred to by some non-marital term unless the reporter hears a marital term come out of their mouths. It’s a rule designed to erase their marriages and pander to bigots.

  60. What is the big deal AP? I use to the term “wife” to describe my partner all the time. She’s a woman…therefore, a wife…as am I. This need not to offend is beyond annoying.

  61. pelham says:

    If the AP is applying a double standard here, they’re only in alignment with a majority of states that have rejected gay marriage.

  62. Ron says:

    It sounds to me like AP was trying to be deferential. It doesn’t sound like a ban but an attempt to address something gay couples are wrestling with all the time. I’m a gay male. Do I call my other half my boyfriend, my significant other (I hate that), my partner? I’m settling on boyfriend before marriage and husband after. But some people find that awkward too.

  63. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    The perceived definition will never change if the AP and others avoid using the words husband for any male spouse and wife for any female spouse. Will the AP get grief about it? Probably, so BFD. They will know they are on the side of right.

  64. jdallinder says:

    People are not educated into liberalism, they’re educated into tolerance, which is neither liberal nor conservative.

  65. Rick Yesrod says:

    I call my partner husband and he calls me husband. We are both men so to me this only makes sense. We make a point to use the term husband instead of spouse so their is no misunderstanding of our relationship when meeting people, filling out medical forms etc..

  66. irkitated says:

    There is far to much political correctness bullshit in the world these days. Is it really that big of a deal?

  67. tommyterror says:

    So what’s the story with the AP rule-makers? Who’s in charge? Because they definitely have an anti-gay agenda. Banning the word “Homophobia” – which is insane – and now this?? There needs to be an expose.

  68. OtterQueen says:

    He still uses that phrase, too.

  69. James says:

    I think it’s important to use the same terminology people use for themselves. If a heterosexual man calls his girlfriend “partner,” we should respect that designation regardless of any other preconceived notions. The coupling between you and yours is a private matter, and who are we to judge someone else’s convention? Ultimately, I hope this is the outcome of the marriage equality (NOT “same-sex marriage”) movement. The bonds are sacred and personal, and as outsiders we have no right to intrude upon another’s bond. Calling this bond using the same terminology that other couples use is a way to respect and recognize each person’s individuality — and therefore ensure validation of their bond.

  70. Dahveed says:

    Its interesting that the biggest problem gay people have is getting the terms correct when they get married.

  71. slappymagoo says:

    They never take my ideas seriously. They never even got back to me on my “Ziggy Does a Snuff Film” story arc.

  72. UncleBucky says:

    Oh, and as I read this, what is a trend in the Spanish speaking world is how a lot of kids deal with the gender “-o” (m) and “-a” (f) of their nouns: They substitute the “o” and the “a” with an “x”. So in this case, to simply erase the effect of gender they make the word read: “esposx”. I don’t know how it is pronounced, but that is gonna be interesting in the evolution of Spanish and the notion of what “esposX” is.

  73. BeccaM says:

    True enough, you have a good point there.

  74. karmanot says:

    Georg is very handsome and charming. Teh gay vibes are going boing, boing.

  75. Jonathan Hinkle says:

    Here in Massachusetts, a marriage license refers to “Party A” and “Party B”. No part of the license, nothing else we have to sign, none of the oaths we have to take requires us to use the words “husband” or “wife”. When I contract a marriage, I’ve contracted a marriage— not a husbandhood. Maybe the word “husband” to some people means nothing more than “male person who has contracted a marriage”. And that’s fine if that’s someone’s default meaning, but if they were to find out that although I am married I don’t wish to be referred to as a “husband”, I should think that any decent person would respect my wishes. (Much as when a transwoman insists that she not be referred to as “he”, it doesn’t matter one whit what one’s opinions on the determination of gender are—if someone doesn’t abide by her wishes, they are, to put it nicely, a very rude person.)

    Also, “if they’re married, they’re married” is far, far too simplistic. While obviously tautologically true, it’s not a particularly useful thought since “married” can mean plenty of different things. A civil marriage has no meaning other than that given by the jurisdiction under the laws of which it is contracted. Any other meaning granted to that contract by another jurisdiction is subject to that that other jurisdiction’s laws. Here, that means that if I were to get married, I would be Massachusetts-married. It so happens that according to the laws of New York, I would also be New York-married. And that according to the laws of Argentina, I would be Argentina-married. But according to the laws of Germany, I would *not* be Germany-married. And according to the laws of the United States, I would also *not* be US-married. USC 1 § 7 (where DOMA § 3 lives) is very clear: as far as the federal government is concerned, “the word ‘marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word ‘spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.” I agree that this law is in violation of the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the Constitution, but that doesn’t change the fact that for now, it is a federal law with exactly as much binding force as any other federal law. Even disregarding the discrepancies between various jurisdictions’ treatment of same-sex civil marriages, there’s the mess of religious marriage. If I were to marry a woman and divorce her, the Catholic Church would continue to view us as married until we filed the proper paperwork with them (my being gay would presumably be sufficient to be granted an annulment). Of course, it doesn’t matter to me in the slightest what the Catholic Church thinks of my marital status while it does matter to me rather strongly what the US government thinks of my marital status.

    If I got married here in Massachusetts, it would not be dishonest of me to say “I’m married”, but that would hardly be the whole story and it would not be inaccurate to add “—but not as far as the United States is concerned”.

  76. Randy says:

    “Lover” just gives me the willies. Years ago, my (now) sister-in-law introduced me as “my brother’s lover.” I was so creeped out. It just sounds to cheap and tawdry. I’m grateful the term has landed in the dustbin.

  77. Randy says:

    Really? Is that what I “should be certain” to do? Sorry, but my legally-wedded spouse and I both prefer “partner” or “spouse” to husband.

  78. NCMan says:

    won’t they all be just flabbergasted when they finally come to the realization that many gay couples are versatile and both men are taking it up the butt. And, many gay couples don’t partake in anal at all.

  79. EdA says:

    Does the AP intend to use the same standards for straight couples? I haven’t paid a lot of attention, but I’m not sure that Michelle Obama, or certainly Hillary Clinton, often refer to their partners as their so-called “husbands.”

  80. Mark_in_MN says:

    Words are not their etymologies. Many words stay reasonably close to their origins, but almost all words drift, losing and gaining connotations, being put to new uses, etc. Sometimes words even radically transform, either changing or adding meanings, into something quite different, even the opposite of what its origins might suggest (think a word like “terrific”). It’s not clear that whatever it’s origins, or even long associations, words like husband and wife still carry such now-less-than-fortunate meanings for contemporary English speakers.

  81. Stev84 says:

    That confusion extends to lesbian couples too. It’s not just about anal sex. The problem is gender stereotypes in general.

  82. Stev84 says:

    In China “comrade” (tongzhi) is a slang word for gay people

  83. emjayay says:

    If a gay couple gets married, it’s highly likely they know what people who are married to other people are called. Men are called husband, and women are called wife. If a couple doesn’t want to be referred to that way, they probably wouldn’t get married. If some married person, gay or straight, wants to call the person they are married to something else, it’s up to them to tell the reporter. So for example, the story might read, “Bob’s wife (who he prefers to call The Old Ball and Chain) Jane, ……

  84. David Windsor says:

    And my 4 year old grandson, after spending a day with my partner and I, said to his father, “Daddy, you’re so lucky that you grew up with two daddies.”

  85. karmanot says:

    Its suggests inimacy and bonding. Good one.

  86. “Significant Otter” seems rather nicer however. It’s charming.

  87. Skeptical Cicada says:

    I think it’s very damning of the AP that they didn’t even make “spouse” an option. The default is the unmarried word, “partner.” I think they’ve tried to hide our marriages to pander to bigoted readers.

  88. Skeptical Cicada says:

    As I said, my comment wasn’t specifically address to you, perljammer, especially because you were so careful and respectful in how your worded your question.

    I’m just quite disappointed that folks read that guidance and don’t get that the problem is AP is trying to put non-marriage words on married couples to pander to bigots. So many people have read that and envisioned some Klinger type gay man from MASH demanding to wear a housecoat and be called a “wife.” I’m just slapping my forehead in frustration at how wide that reaction has been.

    Perhaps not you, perljammer, but there is this bizarre, pervasive speculation among heterosexuals about which gay man is the “man” and which one is the “woman” in the relationship–as well as an obsessive curiosity about our sex roles and acts.

  89. George Melby says:

    No, no! I’m thinking probably Anonymous melting their equipment via internet and put them out of business permanently, or for, say… 6-8 months?

  90. Robin Tyler says:

    John, of course AP is wrong. However, to be honest, I prefer the word spouse. My other half preferred the word wife. I never call myself wife. However, that is my choice, and not AP’s.

  91. George Melby says:

    I have noi problems with the AP calling it whatever, as long as they can be called what they truly are… a sh*t rag!

  92. perljammer says:

    Well, I can only speak for myself. I asked because I didn’t have any idea what either gay man or lesbian woman wants to be called. And I really have no interest, obsessive or not, in what anyone is putting anywhere — it’s not my business or concern.

  93. Skeptical Cicada says:

    Right. That would be inaccurate, and it deliberately conceals the existence of their marriage to appease bigots.

  94. Stev84 says:

    This policy would refer to married same-sex couples as “partners”

  95. I actually thought of “consort” but only because I was curious enough to look up Latin words for husbands and wives, including consors. I rather like the Latin word coniunx but you just try turning that into something in English that sounds any good. “Hi, mom, dad, meet my conjunct!”

    Maybe the French Revolutionists had it right. No titles, no distinctions, no monsieurs or mesdames, only citizens. I wouldn’t mind being called “citoyen”. Or even “comrade” although that wouldn’t go down very well these days.

    I’m of awfully split mind about these things, though. Part of me says, “It doesn’t matter.” The other part of me wants the world to know. Same thing when I debate getting rings. On the one hand it’s not as though my husband-to-be is demanding a ring like a stereotypical fiancee a jewelry store commercial. But…to be able to wear a wedding ring! That actually means something to me.

  96. Skeptical Cicada says:

    I don’t disagree, but “spouse” as a default for married gay couples would be vastly superior to “partner.” I think AP is deliberately defaulting to a word that conceals the marriage. “Spouse” at least would not do that.

    That’s the worst part of this guidance. If the couple uses husband or wife, the guidance at least accommodates that. But when the reporter doesn’t know what the married gay couple uses, the guidance orders reporters to conceal the existence of their marriage with the word “partner” or “couple.”

  97. Thom Watson says:

    We’re talking about terminology. If you’re married and you’re a man, you’re someone’s husband. If you’re married and you’re a woman, you’re someone’s wife. They don’t ask opposite-sex couples what they want to be called; they use the correct terminology.

    More than that, though, we’re talking about the AP having one standard for describing opposite-sex couples, and a different standard for describing same-sex couples, even when they are legally situated exactly the same way. By definition, that’s discrimination.

  98. Skeptical Cicada says:

    I don’t think that’s true with respect to gay couples. I hear “spouse” quite a lot in formal, introduction-type situations. And that’s equivalent to a newspaper article.

    It’s beyond bizarre to me that AP would say the default rule is to called married gays “partners” and not even mention “spouse” as an option.

  99. Stev84 says:

    I think spouse is more of a legal term – and for that it’s perfectly fine – than something that is used in everyday conversation.

  100. Skeptical Cicada says:

    The following is not specifically directed at perljammer….

    It is unbelievable to me how many comments I’ve seen on various sites where heterosexuals read the AP guidance and think the issue is that one of the gay men wants to be called a “wife.” For fuck’s sake!

    What is with this obsessive curiosity that straight people have about which man’s asshole is getting fucked?

  101. Skeptical Cicada says:

    If the same-sex couple got legally married, the parties are husbands, wives, and spouses. They are not mere “partners.”

  102. Skeptical Cicada says:

    The AP guidance does not authorize use of the word “spouse” at all.

  103. Skeptical Cicada says:

    The states where these couples got married do not define the words as you do. Get over it.

    “Spouse” is also a perfectly acceptable, gender-neutral word.

    Fario is not an English word at all.

  104. dadgumhippies says:

    a husband is a man and a wife is a woman by definition- gay couples should refer to the person they are marrying as a faria if women or as a fario if males

  105. John R says:

    How about the AP use the term “spouse” – that is a gender neutral term for a married partner. I understand where the confusion could come from. A heterosexual married couple has terms that fit them based solely on their gender – “husband” and “wife”. In a same-sex marriage, the terms aren’t clear – I’ve seen pretty much every combination, from both calling each other “husband”, or “wife”, or each being called by a specific one. Unless you know the couple, you can’t really say “husband” or “wife”… if they went by the other term, it would be wrong, and could be taken as a bit offensive. So, where AP is a bit clumsy in how they put out the rule, and seem to miss the gender-neutral term “spouse”, I don’t feel it necessarily comes from any double-standard.

  106. caphillprof says:

    Except my husband and I refer to one another as “my husband” so for us it would be husband and husband, not husband and wife.

    Also the AP is a group of right wingers stuck in the 19th century. I wish Anonymous would put them out of business, if only for a day or two.

  107. perljammer says:

    Doh! See, I told you I was woefully uninformed. Thanks for the short and to the point clarification. And thanks also for taking the question at face value.

  108. slappymagoo says:

    I’m gonna guess this is one of those issues where people get pissed no matter what decision is made. Forget the fundies; I’ll bet a shiny nickel there are married couples, straight and gay, that don’t like using the antiquated terms “husband” and “wife” because of the supposed dominant/submissive histories of the words, and prefer the single word “spouse” or “partner” because it denotes equality. And if they prefer partner but in print get referred to as a husband or wife, then they are offended. As far as I’m concerned the AP should refer to every married couple as spouses, it’s clinically and politically correct.

  109. Stev84 says:

    Choosing your own label is perfectly fine if people aren’t married. For example people in a DP or CU can still be called husband/wife. Acknowledging that is good.

    However, a literal interpretation of that policy means that even if a couple is legally married, there would need to be some explicit evidence that they are using the terms husband and wife. And if a reporter doesn’t know what they call themselves, they will be downgraded to “partners”. That’s beyond absurd. It even says “Generally AP uses couples or partners to describe people in civil unions or same-sex marriages”. That’s *not* ok.

  110. racdula says:

    There are endless attacks against same-sex marriage but never a word against the many thousands of kids spawned from unmarried couples and who, recent years ago, were described as bastards.

  111. For every one of those I know people who were raised by progressive parents who turned out exactly the opposite, lets not pretend everyone can be educated into liberalism, it is a view, not the only view and we should in no way force our ways onto others anymore than others should force their views onto us.

    (on the article)

    In this case, if you cannot see the absolute minefield of issues the AP would face from labeling people a certain way than you really have missed the point. Maybe not all gay couples want to be husband and husband or husband and wife, perhaps we could allow people to determine their own label before we print it? I see nothing unreasonable about the AP, this is just another issue to flag wave over. Lets remember, while gay marriage is marriage in every sense of the word, it is not the widely perceived definition of husband and wife because of the obvious gender difference, so why would it be unreasonable for the AP to let the issue be settled by the participants rather than making a blanket assumption about a very diverse group.

  112. WellArmedLamb says:

    When the AP bans something…you know its a freak show…

  113. OtterQueen says:

    I always thought it would be weird to be referred to as someone’s wife. “Wife.” It just didn’t seem like me. Before we were married, my husband referred to me by name or as his Significant Otter. Now when he calls me his wife, it’s still a little strange…. but nice.

  114. MaryJOGrady says:

    He just consecrated Gorgeous Georg an archbishop, I guess to provide for his future.

  115. Marcos Duran says:

    Isn’t it a little different than straight people though? Their side of the definition is very clear our side, unfortunately, is not so clear. Given the proportion of gay and lesbian men and women who are actually MARRIED to each other I would also take the more conservative side of not using the terminology unless the couple in question has used it themselves otherwise chances are the paper is presenting the wrong information. The paper is not unwilling to use the term married or husbands, they just want the situation to be clear before they do.

  116. Steve_in_CNJ says:

    Not married because we’re not allowed. And no, I would never say spouse. So good point. Still I’d like to see the style geniuses at AP squirm if they were boxed into using spouse for ever couple.

  117. Miriam says:


  118. Diana Dee says:

    How about ‘ball & chain’?

  119. Diana Dee says:

    I use the words partner or significant other IF I do not know a couples’ marital status. This is for both same-sex & hetro couples. I don’t assume anything, because there are many hetro couples living together with children that are not married. Now if a same-sex or hetro couple identifies themselves as married they are spouses in my book. I don’t check papers.

  120. Skeptical Cicada says:

    The anti-gay bias of the AP has been obvious for quite some time.

  121. Bingo.

  122. It works the same way as with straight couples. The ones with a penis are the husband, and the ones with vaginas are wives.

  123. Here’s an easy guideline. If they’re married, they’re married. If they’re not, they’re not.

  124. JoeyDoves says:

    Hey hats off to you and the wife, You’re raising a good kid.

  125. karmanot says:

    Will & Grace also shared the same bathtub! OMG

  126. karmanot says:

    Well, I imagine the Popenfrüher would have a morganic marriage and Georg would be promoted to Popendutchess.

  127. karmanot says:

    Yep, remember the days when one was asked, who’s the wife?

  128. karmanot says:

    Yep, Rachel Maddow has pioneered the way on that.

  129. karmanot says:

    Well, I’d stay away from the brides of Christ problem.

  130. karmanot says:

    Amazed me. You’d a thunk Honey BooBoo got off’d.

  131. karmanot says:

    Ronald Reagan used to call Nancy, Ms. Poo Pants, but it did not catch on among Republicans in general.

  132. Jonathan Hinkle says:

    I feel like there’s no good option at -all-. For me personally, “husband” has way too much baggage to want to use it of myself (even if my legal situation rendered it technically accurate), but unfortunately for me I also agree without about how bloodless all of the alternatives are.

    “Consort” seems like it might be especially well-suited for those of us that identify as queens. I’m honestly shocked that it’s not more widespread.

    Maybe I’ll just use “person”. I mean, I guess your significant other ought to be the most person-y person you know. Otherwise why’d you pick them? “This is John, my person.” Ha.

  133. karmanot says:

    see above

  134. karmanot says:

    I’m amazed you got 12 downers Nicho. Maybe if we changed to gender specific words for absolute clarity: instead of Mr. & Mrs. ‘husband and wife, we could say: Mr.& Mrs Penis and Vagina, or the Ms.s Vagina, or the Mr.s Penis, or Mr. penis & Ms Trans, and so on.

  135. Jonathan Hinkle says:

    I might propose the following guideline, to be applied to both same-sex and mixed-sex couples:

    • Are these individuals married? If so, do they use the words “husband” or “wife” of each other? If so, use “husband” or “wife” of them.
    • Are these individuals married? If so, do they use the words “husband” or “wife” of each other? If not, use whatever terms they prefer, or if those are too cooky (e.g. “sugarplum”, “knight in shining armor”) use “legal husband” or “legal wife”.
    • Are these individuals married? If not, do they use the words “husband” or “wife” of each other? If so, do not refer to them as “husband” or “wife”, but feel free to mention that they refer to each other as such. (I feel like marriage equality in the UK has been slowed by the propensity of the media there to refer to people’s civil partners as their “husbands” or “wives”.) Default to using the term “partner”.
    • Are these individuals married? If not, do they use the words “husband” or “wife” of each other? If not, call them whatever they call each other, with the same cooky-ness exception as above. Words you might default to might be “boyfriend”, “girlfriend”, and “partner”.
    • Use “couple” to refer to the members of a non-poly relationship, irrespective of marital status.
    • In all cases, feel free to print further explanation behind the words you use in the article itself. (e.g. “Max and Jim, who refer to each other as ‘husbands’ in their daily life although they are unable to marry where they reside in Wyoming, …”)

    I think these guidelines would allow the AP to be clear and accurate (in that it communicates the reality of the situation to its readers) while being simultaneously respectful of couples’ wishes (in addition to the married same-sex couples who wish to be referred to as “husbands” or “wives”, there certainly exist some straight couples who have consciously decided to refer to each other as “partners” and who do not wish to be called “husband” and “wife”).

    The media shouldn’t be afraid of calling out the differences between what couples call themselves and the legal reality (even when that reality differs between a state and the federal government). The accentuation of these discrepancies would help our cause. A surprising number of people I meet seem scarcely aware of DOMA but are almost universally outraged when I explain some of DOMA’s discriminatory effects. (Something I’ve had ample opportunity to experience as the American half of a binational couple who has to repeatedly fend off friends’s well-meaning suggestions that I just marry my partner here in Massachusetts so that he can get a green card instead of planning my emigration to live with him in Canada). Accentuating these differences helps those who don’t feel the effects of DOMA every day (i.e., straight people) realize that even though some Americans live in jurisdictions that provide same-sex marriage, the journey isn’t complete even for those lucky ones.

  136. HolyMoly says:

    That’s why same-sex spouses need to ensure that they make it very clear that they are husband and husband. Anyone who is given an opportunity by the media to speak, even if it’s not a gay marriage-related story, needs to inject “my husband/wife” into what they say. Like “My husband Tony and I witnessed the robbery,” said John Jingleheimer-Schmidt. I think most especially injecting the terminology into unrelated stories would go quite a bit further in normalizing the concept, as it’s not the sole focus of the story, but rather something that’s said in passing, like it’s not that big of a deal (which it shouldn’t be).

  137. karmanot says:

    I agree, but can you just hear some Mr. Rev. Holy Roller introducing the Rev. Mrs. Chattel to the congregation, Biblically speaking, of course.

  138. Thom Watson says:

    And kids see clearly and without bias until they’re taught it. Twenty-some years ago my then four-year-old nephew once asked the man I was dating at the time if he had a wife. When my boyfriend said, simply, that he didn’t, my nephew responded, “I know. You’re married to my uncle.” We weren’t out to my family who were, at that time, quite homophobic (they’re now quite the opposite, and absolutely consider my domestic partner my husband), but my young nephew could see love and relationship without any blinders, and put it into the terms he best understood.

  139. HolyMoly says:

    Good story. And I suppose that’s what it might take…a generation of youngsters growing up aware of the normality of gays and gay marriage. By the time they reach adulthood and the older generation passes from the scene, things will be much different. There’ll always be a few holdouts who were raised on hatred from birth, but hopefully they’ll be laughed off the stage of intelligent, mature discourse by that time, rather than given the false equivalence that they are now.

  140. karmanot says:

    Yep, I’d go for ambithingyness.

  141. UncleBucky says:

    Reading down, as I do, and knowing Spanish, decimos normalmente “mi esposo” o “mi esposa”, no? En vez de referirnos al esposo como “el marido” (husband) o a la esposa como mujer (wife), es mejor decir en castellano o en inglés esposo/esposa/SPOUSE.

    Works for me. ;o)

  142. Thom Watson says:

    Yep, you’re missing the point. You’re not even playing on the same court. There’s not a husband and a wife in a same-sex married couple. There are either two husbands or two wives. Husband is a description, not a sex role; it simply describes a man who is married. Same thing, wife, for a married woman, regardless of the sex of her spouse.

  143. ComradeRutherford says:

    Clue: AP was bought by far-right wingers several years ago.

  144. perljammer says:

    I have to admit that I’m woefully uninformed with regard to this issue. This is definitely not a troll; I’m just curious. If a journalist is interviewing a same-sex couple, and the couple does not self-identify as to who is husband and who is wife, or even if they have a preference for those labels, how is the journalist supposed to figure out whom to refer to as what? Am I out of my mind for thinking that in the case of a hetero couple, guessing who is husband and who is wife is going to be pretty straightforward and accurate most of the time? Or should the journalist ask, just to be sure, regardless of the situation?

    Arrgh. I have the sinking feeling that I’m missing the point here. Can someone hit me with a clue-stick?

  145. UncleBucky says:

    Hah, there is a threat against AP from a high source $$$ and, just like in the corrupt RCC, if they vary from the script, they will suffer. So the AP tows the line.

    We need daylight on who signed this order/policy at AP.

  146. BeccaM says:

    I’d rather they just get rid of it.

  147. BeccaM says:

    I’d be for this only if they applied that term to both hetero and same-sex couples. As it is, we’re dealing with connotations here.

    Spouse, couple, and partners are dry words, and the latter two of those can apply to non-marrieds. There’s no emotion, no implied underlying statement of commitment or affection.

    I don’t know if you’re married or not, but just say the words aloud, as if you would to someone you just met. “Hi, I’m Steve and this is my spouse, (name)” versus “Hi, I’m Steve. This is my husband, (name).” There just isn’t any emotional content to the word ‘spouse.’

    And as long as the AP would insist on using terms that remove emotional content and commitment when referring to our avowed marital unions, they’re telling the world that our marriages are less real, less romantic and committed than those between straight people.

  148. He’s got two hands! A sort of left and right Thing, really.

  149. Stev84 says:

    They are doing two very contradictory things here. First, they allow people to be referred to as husbands/wives if they used those terms even if they aren’t legally married. That’s good.

    However, a literal reading also means that they require direct proof that a married couple used those words. That’s bad. Some people say they are being progressive and not discriminatory. But they are only seeing the first part and not the second.

  150. BeccaM says:

    The problem here is AP’s implication that a legal same-sex marriage isn’t equivalent to a hetero one.

    Nobody would dream of asking a hetero couple if they preferred ‘spouse’ or ‘husband/wife’. Or worse, requiring that hetero couple to assert that husband and wife are their preferred terms before using them.

  151. HolyMoly says:

    Got to thinking about how Lucy and Ricky couldn’t be shown sharing the same bed, even though all of America, adult and child alike, knew that mom and dad share the same bed. Or that Laura Petry wearing Capri pants instead of a skirt was such a big deal (by that time at least she and Rob were shown sharing the same bed). Or when Archie Bunker was heard flushing his toilet, that was such a big deal as well. Never saw Will & Grace, but I imagine having one of the lead roles being gay was yet another one of those “shocking” moments in television history.

    Whatever the motivation behind AP’s decision, American society and culture obviously is immature in the extreme, or at least what they’re trying to FEED to us as “mainstream” culture by the shrill minority is immature (increasing numbers of Americans agree that same-sex marriage should be legal, so what gives?).

  152. Bloix says:

    True story from a straight married man:
    A few years ago our 14-year old son spent an afternoon with a gay friend of ours, helping with a project at his house. Our son had a great time and told us all about the work he’d done. “So,did you meet Tom’s friend Lewis?” my wife asked. “Mom!” says our son. “Lewis isn’t Tom’s friend! He’s his husband!”

  153. If we purged the language of every word with a dodgy etymology we’d have considerably smaller dictionaries. But I do appreciate the point, while wondering what coinages can be devised to replace these words that don’t sound either too anemic or too made-up, the way a lot of neologisms do.

  154. Stratplayer says:

    I absolutely agree that same-sex couples who apply the terms to themselves should publicly repeat them at every opportunity. It’s a good way of creating “facts on the ground,” and thereby proactively establishing a new linguistic norm.

  155. nicho says:

    Five down arrows, but not one rational argument. Dontcha just love the internet?

  156. nicho says:

    I wonder if Ratzinger is quitting so he can go to France with his “secretary” Georg and get married.

  157. Steve_in_CNJ says:

    The monitors have to get this down-rec thing under control. Lazy people are using it to express disagreement. Or maybe just to be trollish.

  158. karmanot says:

    Howabout: Mr. or Ms. Thing? “I’d like you to meet my Thing,” ” My Thing agrees that agrees that gender specific words are inappropriate for marriages made in Law or Heaven.”

  159. judybrowni says:

    Yeah, WTF’s wrong with “spouse?” Afraid the fundies will go after you AP?

  160. Steve_in_CNJ says:

    What about “spouse”? In English you can use “spouse” without revealing the gender. Still too progressive for the AP?

  161. S1AMER says:

    Yep. I always refer to my wife, in part to make a point and, of course, because I’m happy she is my wife.

  162. Are they checking marriage licenses now? How do they know the straight couple is married? It’s worse than a double standard.

  163. BlueIdaho says:

    I’m sure I will never be interviewed by AP so it doesn’t really matter, but just for the record I refer to my husband as my husband in conversation with others, etc. At lot of our gay friends think these terms are too “heterosexual” and prefer “Domestic Partner” or “Spouse”. I recently filled out a jury summons questionnaire and checked the box “married”. I can’t wait for an attorney to ask a question about my wife and I will have to respond with, “well my husband……..”

  164. nicho says:

    This raises the whole issue of whether husband and wife are appropriate terms any more for anyone. The origins of both words carry heavy overtones of patriarchy and subservience. Husband was the person who owned the house and the property, and that property included the wife — or “woman.”

    It wasn’t that long ago that wedding ceremonies underscored this by pronouncing the couple “man and wife.” They changed to “husband and wife,” but if you know the etymology of terms, it really didn’t make things that much better.

  165. Gah. I hate all these bloodless words, “partner” especially. Lawyers have partners. Criminals have partners. In any case “partner” is insufficiently specific since it can refer to any significant other, married or not.

    The less said about “involvement” the better. What would be the term for someone in an “involvement”? “Involunteer” perhaps?

    Incidentally I’ve never quite liked some of the other words that would describe my, er, partner. “Boyfriend” is poor; it’s too high-school. And if “partner” is too weak, “lover” and “paramour” are too strong. “Significant other” is twee. (Yes, I know I used it two paragraphs ago.) At any rate he’s not my husband yet.

  166. HolyMoly says:

    Anyone who is in a same-sex marriage and finds themselves in a position to be interviewed or quoted in a newspaper article or television news spot should always be certain to use the terms “my husband” or “my wife” when responding to reporters’ questions. The terms should be couched in their responses in such a way that it cannot easily be edited out. The print media does have access to the magical [bracket], but bracketed words in the middle of a quote are not supposed to alter the overall meaning of the quote. Since “couple” and “partner” do not equal “husband/wife,” it would be unethical on the part of print media to do so (if their meanings were interchangeable, why would they go to such great lengths to refrain from using one instead of the other?).

    But no matter what the media chooses to do, the whole “putting lipstick on a pig” thing applies (please excuse the phrase…I am not using it pejoratively). They cannot change reality. Human events and human progress will march on no matter how tightly they shut their eyes and plug their ears.

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