After overwrought pressure from the usual gay “anti-defamation” lobbyists, the Associated Press has caved in and made another new statement approving the use of “his husband” and “her wife” in news stories. as if they’ve taken a stand for neutrality, instead of rewriting the gender dictionary.
“Victory!” was the headline on several gay websites as AP issued a new entry in its AP Stylebook Online, and is scheduled to appear in the 2013 print and mobile additions:
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.”
In a “victory” article for the Los Angeles Times, Nathaniel Frank argued that to refuse to surrender to gay definitions of English is editorializing: “[T]hose who get married have already decided about terminology. AP’s job is to reflect this reality without hesitation. Anything else is editorializing.”
Former USA Today reporter Janet Kornblum also used this formulation. The AP was “taking a stand” by “equating legal gay marriages with civil unions and not, well, marriages,” and therefore “basically siding with people who are anti-gay marriage,” Kornblum argued.
Herndon Graddick of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) was furious with AP before they caved. ““The AP needs to quit obfuscating and delaying and must fix its style guidance now so that reporters describe people in same-sex marriages accurately. That the Associated Press has let this issue drag on for a week is completely perplexing. What the hell is going on over on West 33rd Street?”
After GLAAD won, Graddick was still angry that he had to wait several days for the surrender: “The new official entry in the AP Stylebook is a welcomed change. Why it took a breaking-news wire service 10 days to fix the problem remains a mystery, but what’s clear is that words matter — especially at the largest news operation in the world.”