The Associated Press added a new entry to its stylebook on Thursday advising reporters to use "husband" or "wife" when referring to same-sex marriages.
The change came after criticism from gay and lesbian groups who said same-sex couples should be treated no differently from heterosexuals. In an internal memo earlier this month, AP urged its journalists to use "couples" or "partners" when referencing civil unions and same-sex marriages.
The change will likely reverberate throughout the news media's coverage of same-sex partners, because so many news organizations follow the style of the AP, the world's largest news organization. The AP Stylebook advises reporters on everything from state-by-state abbreviations to avoiding words with racist connotations.
"Regardless of sexual orientation, 'husband' or 'wife' is acceptable in all references to individuals in any legally recognized marriage," the entry says. "Spouse or partner may be used if requested."
Groups ranging from GLAAD to the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association praised the decision.
"The new official entry in the AP Stylebook is a welcomed change," GLAAD President Herndon Graddick said in a statement to TheWrap. "Why it took a breaking-news wire service 10 days to fix the problem remains a mystery, but what's clear is that words matter — especially at the largest news operation in the world."
The NLGBA praised the AP's "quick action" to change the guidelines.
"Language choices like these have an impact," NLGJA President Jen Christensen said in a statement. She had urged the AP in an open letter to use the same vocabulary for all legally-recognized marriages.
Paul Colford, an AP spokesman, did not immediately respond to calls from TheWrap for comment.