Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Q Toon: AP Style, Part Deux

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
uFeb 20, 2013
Having banished "homophobia" from the journalistic lexicon, the Associated Press has now decided that gay and lesbian married couples do not deserve to be called "husbands" and "wives." The AP would prefer to refer to them as "partners," putting them on a par with couples who are not married  to or can not marry each other.
“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.”
After some bloggers and journalists complained about the unequal treatment of same-sex couples vis-a-vis their different-sex counterparts, the AP clarified that it is willing to use the H and W words if the couple is somehow on the record as "regularly" referring to themselves that way. The original guideline was rephrased thusly:
"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."
Now I don't suppose that means that if my Domestic Partner and I start going around regularly calling ourselves "husbands" that the AP will dutifully follow suit -- should we ever become newsworthy. But I have to wonder what confusion those AP editors think they are clarifying by preferring "partner" to describe a person in a civil union or same-sex marriage. "Partner" applies to any number of relationships ("Smith has sold the remainder of the firm to his partner, John Jones"; "Smith impressed the judges by dancing the tango with his partner, John Jones"), whereas "husband" or "wife" applies only to one.

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