It appears James Taranto and the folks at the Wall Street Journal opinion page didn’t find our stylebook very helpful after yesterday’s post, so it’s time to lend a hand.
The confusion is over how can you have an LGBT couple, as Pres. Obama referred to in his statement on the Defense of Marriage Act brief.
I have long held that DOMA prevents LGBT couples from being granted equal rights and benefits. While we work with Congress to repeal DOMA, my administration will continue to examine and implement measures that will help extend rights and benefits to LGBT couples under existing law.
The WSJ folks understand what a “lesbian” couple looks like, and what a “gay” couple looks like, but is having trouble with the “B” and the “T.”
First, LGBT has become a “collective” way of referring to everyone under the sexual orientation/gender identity umbrella. It’s an imperfect compromise, and the press statement would have been better if it said “same-sex” couples, although even that has limits. Here’s what our stylebook says
For the times in which a distinction is necessary, ‘marriage for same-sex couples’ is preferable in stories. When there is a need for shorthand description (such as in headline writing), ‘same-sex marriage’ is preferred because it is more inclusive and more accurate than ‘gay.'”
But the acronym or collective isn’t completely bad. It explains that couples wanting marriage equality aren’t just limited to gay men and lesbians. This gets to the “B” and the “T.”
Two people identify as “bisexual,” have the same sex, and want to get married. They would be a “bisexual” couple, in the sense they are a couple of bisexuals. They also happen to be the same sex.
Two people who are “transgender” can also be the same sex. They would be a same-sex couple. Because of how they are classified by the people handing out the marriage licenses, a same-sex couple may not “look” like a same-sex couple if someone (or both) are transgender, but they are still a same-sex couple. Or a “T” couple could include just one of the partners being “transgender.”
In both of these examples, it reinforces that bisexuals and transgender people don’t necessarily identify as “gay” or “lesbian,” thus the broader acronym “LGBT.”
UPDATE: What’s in a name?