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Public editor: AP updates style on same-sex couples, catching up with other media outlets

The Associated Press, the U.S.-based news wire service, has updated its Stylebook to note that "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." A Poynter story says AP "kicked a hornets' nest" when it said "partner" was the preferred term.

I'm not sure when The Globe and Mail changed its style, but there are many references over the years to "her wife" and "his husband" starting as early as 1980. Not surprisingly, the terms became more common in the newspaper when same-sex marriage was debated in Canada. In 2005, Canada became the fourth country to legalize same-sex marriage. Canadians understand that there should be no difference in the terminology regarding marriage and the news coverage reflected that.

The Globe's practice has been to use the terms husband or wife for same-sex or opposite-sex marriage, although partner or spouse is also fine if that is what people prefer. It's surprising to me that this is an issue in the U.S. when it has become common practice at The Globe and other Canadian media outlets.

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About the Author
Public Editor

Sylvia Stead has been a reporter and editor at the Globe since 1975, after graduating from the University of Western Ontario in Journalism with a minor in Political Science. She won the Board of Governors Award there in 1974. As a reporter, Sylvia covered courts, education and Queen's Park. More

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