Thursday, February 14, 2013

On words and the A/P

There is a bit of a fuss going on (particularly at AmericaBlog) about the reluctance of the Associated Press to use the terms husband or wife for married gay couples.

AP says,
Generally AP uses couples or partners to describe people in civil unions or same-sex marriages.
But like children' programming, "one of these things is not like the other".  First off, a civil union is not a marriage.  That's kinda the point of all the electioneering and fighting, and to conflate them is to miss that point. You'd expect better from a news organization.

Second, a same sex marriage is really a marriage.  It is not gay-marriage, or (scary quotes) "marriage".    It's a legal contract between two adults that we call, simply and accurately,  marriage.  And what do we call a married man?  He's a husband.  Not a "husband".  He's a spouse, nota partner.   (Aside--the scare quotes are a tactic used by equality opponents.  Is AP a front for NOM?).

An apologist writes,
Gay people, married and unmarried, argue over what to call each other in relationships, and pretty much everyone has an opinion. I am in a domestic partnership in a state that only recently approved gay marriage, but I still prefer “boyfriend.” Many others have different preferences. Do two gay men become “husband and husband” by default just because they can get “legally married,” whatever we take that to mean?
Oh, so annoying on so many grounds.  First, it is irrelevant what the writer calls his boyfriend or partner. They aren't married.  Second, if they can get legally married, they are married.  They are not "married" (scary quotes).  And if two gay men marry, then yes, we call them husbands.  Now, I know straight couples who don't like those terms either.  But those are the general terms, and the default should be to use them.  Gay couples aren't trying for special treatment (oooh, let's ask the queers what they want to be called!)  The whole point is to treat our marriages the same as any other.  Apparently this is hard to grasp.

The apologist also says,
the fact is that legal gay marriage remains an elusive thing, even in U.S. states that allow it, because the Defense of Marriage Act prevents full equality.
Umm, #fail. I have a legal marriage (not a "gay marriage", but a marriage).  It is not elusive and it is perfectly legal.  DOMA simply says it is not recognized in some other states or federally.  It does NOT mean my marriage does not exist, and frankly I am quite offended that this .... writer would imply that.

It is true that many LGBT couples are not interested in marrying.  No one is holding a gun to their head sending them to get a license.  But if the writer is not interested in participating in this social contract, i don't care.  My wife and I, however, are legally married, and we are participating fully.

So when people describe her as my partner, I correct them, gently, to use the word wife.  This may offend NOM, but it is a simple fact.

Is AP made of journalists, or "journalists"?  The facts on the ground is that many gay couples are married, and we have husbands and wives.  AP's policy is to attempt to render my marriage non-existent or put an asterisk by it.  It is rude, it is inaccurate, and it is disrespectful.

1 comment:

JCF said...

I'm not crazy, per se, re the terms "husband" and "wife" (So Much Baggage!).

But those ARE the defacto terms we call MARRIED spouses ("spouse", au contraire, I love!). Ergo, husband and wife are the terms one should use, UNLESS the specific married spouses say otherwise.

Now, for a movement to GET RID of "husband" and "wife" for ALL of the married, and replace w/ "spouse"? I guess that would be up to me...