Don't Call It 'Same-Sex Marriage,' Advocates Say

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:04 PM EDT

( - The National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association says the terms "gay marriage" and "same-sex marriage" are inaccurate and misleading and should not be used.

Given the rapidly expanding news coverage of the situation in Massachusetts, the NLGJA is urging all media professionals to use "accurate and clear terminology" in reporting.

In an open letter to "fellow journalists," the NLGJA noted that the decision made by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court affects the state's existing marriage law.

"The court has ordered the state to apply the existing law equally to gay and lesbian couples as early as May 2004. The accurate terminology -- on-air, in headlines and in body type -- should be 'marriage for gays and lesbians,'" the letter said.

As for fair and balanced coverage, the NLGJA recommends that "legal quotes and expertise be kept distinct and separate from religious quotes and opinions.

"Don't contrast a legal expert's comments on points of marriage law and civil legislation with opinions of theologians, for example," the letter said.

"To distinguish between state and religious institutions -- a distinction that is becoming increasingly important for accurate coverage of marriage -- we recommend using the term "marriage for gay and lesbian couples" to describe state recognition of a couple's marriage; "religious ceremony" to describe religious institutions' sanctification or blessing; or "ceremony of commitment" to describe a couple's commitment."

Marriage law is one of the most controversial issues of 2004, the NLGJA said.

"It will continue to be a hot story as the first U.S. marriage licenses are issued to gay and lesbian couples in Massachusetts, through the election cycle and beyond."

The National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association describes itself as an organization of journalists, online media professionals, and students "that works from within the journalism industry to foster fair and accurate coverage of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues."

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