I recently met the pastor of the Congregational Church in Stockbridge, which my parents attended for a number of years. A nice guy, he has only recently been hired for the job after a long search process. He’s happy with the town and the congregation, and spoke comfortably of how well he and his husband have been welcomed by the community. Husband is the correct term for the man he’s married to, and there’s nothing uncomfortable about him using it, at least not to my ears.
I thought of that when I read of the latest Associated Press style policy prohibiting the use of “husband” and “wife” to refer to spouses in same-sex marriages. It was later amended to say using the terms is OK if that’s how the couple refer to each other, but that’s not good enough. Marriage is marriage, in Massachusetts and at least eight other states. Why should the AP Style Book – something of a bible in my profession – insist on putting an asterisk next to these marriages?
I didn’t object when AP banned the use of the term “homophobia” in most usages a few months back. I never liked the term, mostly because it can be used to equate a political position with something that sounds like a mental illness. Not that I don’t think a sub-rational reaction to homosexuality (it used to be called by the more colloquial term “ick factor”) infects some people’s attitudes on issues of gay rights. But in straight news coverage, “homophobia” is just too loaded for my tastes.
But a married male is a husband. No matter who he’s married to.