Dispatches from the land of husbands and wives

The Associated Press Stylebook, the bible from which journalists take their cue for proper wordsmithing, finally acknowledged that a woman can have a wife and a man can have a husband.

It issued an addition today:

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.”

For some people, it’s going to take some getting-used-to.


In Mississippi, the Laurel Leader got some blowback when it published a front-page story on a same-sex marriage earlier this month, in which one wife is battling brain cancer.

The paper received “a deluge of hate calls, letters, e-mails, Facebook posts, soundoffs and random cross stares,” its owner says. But Jim Cegielski, the owner, has some old-school guts and threw it all back in an editorial last weekend.

“We have stories about child molesters, murders and all kinds of vicious, barbaric acts of evil committed by heinous criminals on our front page and yet we never receive a call from anyone saying ‘I don’t need my children reading this.’ Never. Ever. However, a story about two women exchanging marriage vows and we get swamped with people worried about their children,” he wrote.


After a website wrote about the negative reaction on Monday, Cegielski told Jim Romenesko he’s gotten a new advertiser and 100 new subscribers, all of them from outside Mississippi.

h/t: Brian Hanf

  • Drae

    I think there are likely a good number of people that try to hide their discomfort with gay marriage as “concern” for children.