The Name of the Spouse

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The last issue featured an op-ed piece by Michelangelo Signorile on the Associated Press’s announcement that it would stop using the word “homophobia,” which it disparaged as inaccurate and outdated. Now the AP has ventured into the fraught turf of same-sex marriage and adjudged the words “husband” and “wife” to be off limits to describe a legally married same-sex couple except when “those involved have regularly used those terms” when referring to each other. Or such was their stated intent—until a spate of criticism from gay activists and others persuaded them to reverse this reversal. No doubt the AP thought they were doing the polite or PC thing, but the upshot was discriminatory because it treated the two types of marriage as linguistically distinct. Unless they’re prepared to check on every heterosexual couple’s use of these terms—and doubtless there are many who eschew them—the AP will grudgingly refer to “husbands” without wives and “wives” without husbands.

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