Tuesday, February 14, 2012

With This Hyphen, I Thee Wed

The inexorable march toward marriage equality picked up its pace yesterday with this news, as headlined at HuffPo:
Washington Gay Marriage Bill Signed Into Law By Governor Chris Gregoire
After recounting the details of this legislative triumph, the report advises us that
Separately, an anti-gay marriage initiative was filed at the beginning of the session, but the language is still being worked out so no signatures have been collected yet. An initiative alone would not pause the law.
This reminds me of the "orange juice salesman" conundrum from Bill Walsh's Lapsing Into a Comma. The phrase could be construed as describing a juice salesman who is orange, so he suggests employing a hyphen, like so: "orange-juice salesman." Even though "orange juice" is not normally hyphenated, this helps alleviate the confusion and unintended comedy.

That's why I think "anti-gay-marriage initiative" may be the way to go here. As it stands, "anti-gay marriage initiative" could be taken to mean a marriage initiative that is anti-gay. Hmm. On second thought, perhaps it is accurate the way it is.