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AP relents on use of "husband" and "wife" to refer to gay and lesbian couples

More than a week after coming under attack for its discriminatory policy denying the use of "husband" and "wife" to refer to gay and lesbian couples who marry, The Associated Press today amended its policy to be non-discriminatory.

The AP issued this statement today:

The following entry was added today to the AP Stylebook Online and also will appear in the new print edition and Stylebook Mobile, published in the spring:

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 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. "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."

All the major LGBT news sources, including San Diego Gay and Lesbian News, condemned the discriminatory policy. SDGLN refused to follow the AP Stylebook on the matter.

The National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, GLAAD and the Human Rights Campaign also urged AP to change its policy.

On Feb. 12, however, AP made this strange update to its Stylebook. Here is the 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.

SDGLN called out the AP for its discriminatory policy, calling it a double standard for same-sex couples who marry and that of opposite-sex couples. SDGLN said the ruling diminished the marital status of same-sex couples while enhancing that of opposite-sex couples.

In addition, SDGLN pointed out to AP that marriage equality is provided in nine states and the District of Columbia and that it was time for AP to show its neutrality on the marriage issue out of fairness.