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U.S. House Bill Calls For Replacing 'Husband' And 'Wife' With Gender-Neutral Terms In Law

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- It's summer wedding season, and as couples prepare to say "I do," some lawmakers have been looking to change hundreds of laws on the books.

As CBS2's Lou Young reported, a proposal in the U.S. House of Representatives would remove the terms "husband" and "wife."

In White Plains, the sculpture "Contact" by J. Seward Johnson depicts a man and woman embracing. They are married – as the rings on their fingers demonstrate.

But are they "husband and wife?" Are they "two spouses?" Does it matter?

"I'm a husband. I'm married to a wife," said James Kindro of Ardsley, "and if you want to say 'married couple,' I really don't bother me one way or the other."

The recent revolution in same-sex unions has prompted a proposal to gender-neutralize federal law, deleting references to "husband and wife" and opting for "spouse" or "married couple."

Not everyone is pleased.

"I know that they want to do this to get the benefits of a traditional marriage, which is OK," said David Yarborough of Valhalla. "But why do we have to change everything?"

The reason, according to proponents, is that everything changed. Gay marriage is now just plain old marriage, and proponents said the term – especially in law – needs to apply to everyone.

"I'm personally not for it, but now that it's the law of the land, to do that probably makes sense," said Tyler Ross of Yorktown.

"The Supreme Court has made its ruling," said White Plains attorney John Murtagh. "It's now the law of the nation, and the law might as well reflect that fact. It's not changing anything else."

But still, some people found the proposed change disappointing.

"To me, I would prefer it stay the way it is," said Angelo Sgerou of West Harrison.

The proposal has multiple Democratic backers. Republicans whom CBS2 contacted have not yet read the bill and are reserving comment.

Westchester County Clerk Tim Idoni used to preside over civil marriages as mayor of New Rochelle. He said the gender neutrality push has been coming for years.

"Not a big deal - spouse and spouse," Idoni said. "If I were still doing weddings, I'd be saying, 'spouse and spouse.'"

The House bill has 23 sponsors. So far, no elected official has spoken in opposition to it.

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