TIME LGBT

Taco John’s Sued Over Teen Employee’s Anti-Gay Nametag

Tyler Brandt, 16, says he was forced to wear a nametag with the word "GAYTARD" on it

A teenage former Taco John’s employee has filed suit against the fast food chain for allegedly being forced to wear an anti-gay slur on his name tag, in a case that has become a viral sensation thanks to an American Civil Liberties Union campaign.

Tyler Brandt, 16, said that he was required to wear a name tag labeled “GAYTARD” at the Taco John’s branch in Yankton, South Dakota where he worked, according to the ACLU. Brandt, after being repeatedly humiliated in front of customers and coworkers, finally felt that he had to quit his job.

The ACLU is representing Brandt in a discrimination suit again Taco John’s.

More than 32,000 people have signed an ACLU-organized petition requesting that Taco John’s apologize and speak out against workplace discrimination. Many have shared pictures of themselves on social media holding signs with the names of insults that have been leveled at them.

“No one should have to face slurs in their workplace – no boss should be allowed to label their employee with insults,” said the ACLU in the petition.

The company addressed the alleged incident on its Facebook page:

TIME sexuality

How Not to Be a Jerk to Your Child Who Is Coming Out

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Cristian Lazzari—Getty Images

Coming out is not about the parent

xojane

This article originally appeared on xoJane.com.

Coming out isn’t simply one moment; it’s a process those in the LGBTQ community experience their whole lives. Regardless of how outwardly gay I am, I still have to come out occasionally.

Six months ago, I started a new job. I assume everyone who meets me knows automatically, including my new employers, but when I needed to request a day off for my girlfriend’s college graduation, I was still nervous. The truth is, I get nervous every time. There is always at least a little bit at stake. The anxiety one feels during these moments, however, is nothing compared to the terror during the moment — that first moment. That first time you look at your parents and say it.

That moment is life-defining. Eight years later, I still want to throw up when I think about coming out to my mother. Until you start coming out, your life is built on lies.

You don’t know how to talk to your peers because they’re starry-eyed over the opposite sex. You tell your parents that you don’t have a boyfriend because you’re too busy with school to think about boys. That cliche nightmare teenagers have about going to school naked — that’s what being closeted feels like. It’s a combination of feeling blatantly exposed and disconnected.

But that moment. That first time. That is when you first feel like a real person.

I collect coming out stories. I don’t pass them on to other people. They’re not trophies of mine to share, but I love hearing about when someone was first able to stop living their double life. Even an uneventful coming out story is the most raw and passionate piece of themselves a person can share.

And a lot of us wish we had or will have uneventful coming out stories, but the problem is that sometimes parents can be total dicks.

I realize many mothers don’t give birth and then immediately think “I hope this one grows up to be a flaming homosexual.” But this is not about you. So if you’re a parent, aspiring parent, or even if you hate children but there’s a possibility someday it could happen, let’s talk about how to not make your child’s coming out story a nightmare.

  1. Do not ask your newly out child about how they’re going to fare in the future.

I’ve heard this one far too many times. In fact, my friends’ parents will still occasionally ask, “Do you still want a family?”

As a lesbian, I feel like this questions secretly means “You don’t want a husband who’s going to support and take care of you?”

I don’t need a man to take care of me.

I think I do just fine on my own, thanks. If we’re really talking about an actual family of my own, sure I suppose some day I’ll want a wife and a couple of kids.

But being gay doesn’t stop us. There are a lot of different ways to have babies. We may have to do a little more work, but we’re a pretty resourceful community.

Parents will still ask this question. It seems to be a logical one, but it really just provokes a lot of guilt that we’re letting you down by not having that biblical sort of family.

Please don’t go there.

  1. Speaking of biblical, just don’t bring God into the coming out process, unless it’s to tell your child that he loves everyone.

Have you seen the video where the teenager from Georgia recorded his parents verbally and physically assaulting him because homosexuality goes against “the word of God”? The video may seem extreme, but this is a very real fear for many queer youths. If your child’s sexual orientation is such a violent contradiction to your religion, it’s time to disown your religion, not your child.

  1. Don’t tell your child that they’re too young to know their sexual orientation.

A good friend of mine was in seventh grade when he came out, but he knew a long time before that. I waited until I was 17, but my first crush was on a teacher when I was just six years old.

Generally, when we come out, we’ve been thinking about it a lot.

The words “I’m gay” didn’t just happen to fly out of my mouth as I was speaking because it was a fleeting thought I had 10 minutes ago. I agonized over my sexual orientation for years and spent weeks just wondering how I might begin to approach the topic with my parents. I spent the entire summer before my senior year sleeping with men, thinking maybe I could turn off the attraction to women.

We agonize over our coming out moments. We live in fear of our sexuality. Don’t minimize this freeing step by alluding to the idea that your child simply is too young to know.

  1. Don’t assume that your child is trying to be hip and rebellious by coming out.

No one “comes out” because they’re trying to piss off their parents.

When I was a teenager, bisexuality was trendy. Every high schooler who had more than a thousand MySpace friends was “interested in men and women.” But these weren’t the kids who struggled to sit down and have the serious sexuality discussion with their parents. If your child or teenager cares enough to begin a real conversation with you about their orientation, they’re not just gay for street cred. It’s the real deal.

  1. Don’t punish them. Like seriously, at all.

You can cry. That’s OK. Your child will understand. He or she will probably cry too. Any negative reaction that extends beyond that is unacceptable and a total dick move.

Coming out presents this newly found freedom, and your child will never want to return to the closet. Severe punishments and restrictions will only force them to rebel. You’ll create liars out of kids who were once model students simply because they’re avoiding the prison that was the closet. Your children will continue to be gay whether or not you allow it, but they would much rather be upfront and honest with you about it.

Coming out is not about the parent.

You didn’t make any mistakes to make your child gay. The most important way to not be a dick to your child when they come out is just to let them do it. Tell them you love them, and then move on with your lives. A gay child shouldn’t change anything in a familial relationship. We’re not asking you to hang a rainbow flag or go to a Pride parade with us.

Just be our mom, our dad, our family, our parents. That’s all we ever need you to be.

Biz Hurst is a graduate of the University of Michigan.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME faith

Missouri Lawmaker Sues for Control of Daughters’ Sexuality

Birth Control Pill
BSIP—UIG/Getty Images

Adult women should be allowed to make their own reproductive choices

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This article originally appeared on Patheos.

Did you see this one coming? (From MSNBC)

One Missouri lawmaker has taken the fight against birth control coverage to a new and very personal place: His own daughters, two of whom are adults.

State Rep. Paul Joseph Wieland and his wife Teresa are suing the Obama administration over its minimum coverage requirements for health plans under the Affordable Care Act, which includes contraception. They say the government is forcing them to violate their religious beliefs because they have three daughters, ages 13, 18 and 19, who are on their parents’ plan and might get birth control at no additional cost.

Wieland’s lawyer makes this comparison:

[Attorney Timothy] Belz also said that making birth control more accessible under health plans was “as though the federal government had passed an edict that said that parents must provide a stocked unlocked liquor cabinet in their house whenever they’re away for their minor and adult daughters to use, and Mormons came in and objected to that. It is exactly the same situation.”

Except that that’s not how insurance works. No one is requiring Wieland to hand his daughters birth control, or to keep a stock of birth control on the kitchen table for easy access. What the law says is simply this: health insurance companies must cover birth control with no deductible or copay. That’s it. Yes, Wieland has his daughters’ on his health insurance plan. His wife is on it too, so she, too, has access to birth control as well. It’s about ensuring that insurance companies cover women’s healthcare, period.

Look, health insurance companies cover blood transfusions. I suspect they’re required to by law, too. Could a Jehovah’s Witness parent object, because his adult son might get a blood transfusion should he ever be in need of one? Applying Wieland’s logic leads to a mess. I mean by his logic, parents should be able to pick and choose through their children’s health insurance and pick and choose which things their children can have covered, provided they can make a religious justification and completely irregardless of their adult children’s religious beliefs.

Now of course, the fact that Wieland’s daughters can get birth control on their parents’ plan doesn’t mean they have to get birth control. And if they share their parents beliefs on the subject, they won’t. But Wieland is concerned that they might not share his beliefs.

One of the judges pointed out that parents might have more control over their kids than employers, and that parents could just say to their kids, “We expect you do abide by our religious tenets.” Belz replied, “Well, we all have high hopes for our kids, that is true. We all expect and want them to obey us, they don’t always …”

These girls are 18 and 19. They’re not children, they’re adults.

There are two ways to look at this. We could say that Wieland is trying to prevent his adult daughters from having access to affordable birth control, and we would be correct. But Wieland’s legal claim is slightly different. Wieland says that paying for his daughters birth control would violate his religious beliefs. In other words, he says this is about his beliefs and his conscience, not about whether or not his daughters are using birth control. But again, this isn’t how insurance works. It wasn’t in the Hobby Lobby case, and it isn’t here. Unfortunately, Hobby Lobby won its case, suggesting that the Supreme Court thinks this is the way insurance works.

Now, Wieland could simply drop his daughters from his plan, and maybe we should be grateful for them that he’s not going that route. Wieland is arguing that his religion requires him to provide birth control for his daughters. The problem is that he’s using this argument to prove that the law requiring birth control coverage violates his religious beliefs.

The Wielands have argued in their brief that providing health coverage to their daughters – which, thanks to the same Affordable Care Act, they can do until their children turn 26 – is also part of their religious beliefs. “The Plaintiffs cannot terminate their daughters’ health insurance coverage without violating their religious duty to provide for the health and well being of their children,” they wrote in one brief.

I think it’s awesome that Wieland believes he should continue to pay for his daughters’ health and well being through providing them with birth control. It would be even more awesome if that belief extended to all of women’s health care. The problem is Wieland’s view of birth control. You would think that a parent in his shoes might want his daughters to abstain from premarital sex, but also want them to have access to birth control should they decide to have sex anyway (after all, a parent cannot prevent an adult daughter from having sex). But no.

Christians who oppose sex before marriage tend to feel that access to birth control increases the likelihood that young people will have sex. This is probably not all that true for young people who are already taught that sex before marriage is sinful. After all, if you belief something is sinful and may send you to hell, whether or not you are protected against STDs or pregnancy is the less important worry. Christians who oppose sex before marriage also tend to believe that having unprotected sex is less sinful than having protected sex. This is because using birth control shows that the sex is premeditated. You can see this last point illustrated in this short video clip:

Wieland is Catholic, which adds another dimension. The Catholic Church teaches that birth control is unacceptable for even married couples. Families may use natural family planning to space their children out—provided they go about it with the right attitude of openness to children—but that’s it. So for Wieland, this isn’t just about his adult daughters having premarital sex, it’s about them using birth control at all. Of course, they’ll have to leave their father’s insurance when they marry, so Wieland won’t have any say regarding their use of birth control in marriage.

I have no idea what Wieland’s daughters think of all of this. They may be completely involved and invested, as I would have been at their age. I would have seen it as a way to fight back against the big bad government in favor of our religious beliefs. But at 21 I would have seen it differently. At 21 I would have felt used, and I would have wanted out. Frankly, I probably would have gotten off my parents’ plan entirely and found a way to make a go of it on my own, were I in their shoes. After all, that’s what I did when it came to paying for college. I didn’t want anything else they could use to control me and my choices.

When it comes down to it, Wieland wants the right to use his daughters’ insurance coverage to control their sexuality. He wants to have a say over whether the insurance he obtains for his family gives his adult daughters’ access to birth control. In a world where patriarchy reigns supreme, this request would be reasonable. But we don’t live in that world. We live in a world where adult women are allowed to make their own reproductive choices (or at least, that is the world we should live in).

Libby Anne was raised in an evangelical family, was homeschooled and was taught that a woman’s place is in the home. She became a non-believer after college and now writes on purity culture, Christian right politics, and the importance of feminism.

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TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME faith

Pastor Mark Driscoll Called Women ‘Penis Homes’

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This article originally appeared on Patheos.

Things have been getting worse and worse for Mark Driscoll in recent weeks. But what I want to point out for a moment is one of Driscoll’s posts from 2001, when he was posting to a church message board under the name William Wallace II. I have rarely seen an evangelical man assert male superiority and prominence this directly.

The first thing to know about your penis is, that despite the way it may see, it is not your penis. Ultimately, God created you and it is his penis. You are simply borrowing it for a while.

While His penis is on loan you must admit that it is sort of just hanging out there very lonely as if it needed a home, sort of like a man wondering the streets looking for a house to live in. Knowing that His penis would need a home, God created a woman to be your wife and when you marry her and look down you will notice that your wife is shaped differently than you and makes a very nice home.

Yes, really. Men’s penises are on loan from God, and women were created to be “homes” for men’s penises. So much for any claims of men and women being “equal before God.” No, men were created by God and loaned penises. Women were then created by God to be penis homes.

Therefore, if you are single you must remember that your penis is homeless and needs a home. But, though you may believe your hand is shaped like a home, it is not. And, though women other than your wife may look like a home, to rest there would be breaking into another man’s home. And, if you look at a man it is quite obvious that what a homeless man does not need is another man without a home.

Notice that all women are portrayed as another man’s penis home, whether or not they are married. This squares with what I was taught—every woman is some man’s future wife, and that man owns her body even before they meet.

Paul tells us that your penis actually belongs to your wife, and once you are married she will trade you it for her home (I Corinthians 7:4), and every man knows this is a very good trade for him to make.

With his penis, the man is supposed to learn to please his wife and learn how to be patient, self-controlled and be educated on how to keep his home happy and joyous (I Corinthians 7:3). The man should be aroused by his new home, and the wife should rejoice at seeing his penis rise to greet her (Song of Songs 5:14b).

Oh yes, a man should keep “his home” sexually satisfied. And the wife, for her part, should be sexually arousing to her husband and “rejoice” when he has an erection. This sad attempt at mutuality fails when the one party is described as a penis home.

You can view the full screenshot here.

Frankly, I’m not surprised that this is the viewpoint taken by at least some evangelical men. All to many evangelical and fundamentalist advice books treat the man as the primary creation and the woman as, well, merely his helper. The man is primary, the woman is secondary. The man was created for God’s glory, the woman for man. These individuals claim that men and women are nevertheless equal before God, but that claim rings hollow when placed alongside the rest of their rhetoric.

The claim that women are uplifted and honored as caregivers and nurturers in the home also rings hollow in this context. In Driscoll’s treatment, women are no more than penis homes. Women were created to satisfy men. There is nothing uplifting or honored in that. Even many evangelical and fundamentalist women, who are attracted to those beliefs in part because of the rhetorical value they place on homemaking, must surely be appalled by Driscoll’s rhetoric.

In a sense, Driscoll’s downfall was only a matter of time.

Libby Anne is a blogger for Patheos.

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TIME sexuality

If Gay Rights Stop Moving Forward They Could Get Pushed Back

Bloomberg—Getty Images

If we are indeed at a tipping point, we are precariously balanced atop it

From the outside, it looks pretty clear: The LGBT equality movement is on the fast track, and the U.S. has reached that magic tipping point. The Supreme Court required federal recognition of same-sex couples’ marriages. Thirty-eight court decisions have been decided in favor of the right to marry for same-sex couples. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has begun to accept LGBT discrimination complaints all across the U.S. And 34 million workers now have protection from President Obama’s executive order regarding federal contracts.

Already 44 percent of the country (and half of same-sex couples) lives in a state with marriage equality, and 53 percent of U.S. workers have some kind of state or federal LGBT nondiscrimination policy coverage.

That’s all clear progress toward equality, but if we are indeed at a tipping point, we are precariously balanced atop it.

Let’s take, for example, the marriage issue. It has judicial momentum, sure, but no one knows when the Supreme Court will rule on the larger issue to ensure national marriage equality. In the meantime, more than 300,000 same-sex couples (and millions more single LGBT people who might someday want to marry) live in states that won’t allow them to marry or recognize their marriage. But the Court’s recent Hobby Lobby decision is already leading to a push for broad religious exemptions in LGBT-related laws that do pass, suggesting people looking for the full marriage and workplace equality pie might only get half of it.

If you’re not moving forward, you could be pushed back. (Especially during an election season where some pundits are predicting a GOP takeover that may not be LGBT-movement friendly.)

The momentum seems to have slowed on workplace equality laws. Although 21 states have outlawed sexual orientation discrimination since 1982, no state has taken similar action since 2009 (although six states have added gender identity discrimination protection since then). The long-fought-for bill granting federal protections to all U.S. workers, the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, passed the Senate last year but has gone nowhere in the House. Many employers now provide domestic partner health care benefits for employees with unmarried same-sex partners–but the growth in the share of private sector workers with access to those benefits has leveled off, settling at around one-third of employees whose employers provide benefits.

What’s behind this stagnation? One look at a map of LGBT-related laws shows one reason why the spread of equality may be slowing: activists spent the past few years picking the low-hanging fruit – accumulating victories in states with the strongest support for LGBT equality. The west coast and northeast are zones of almost full formal equality for LGBT people, along with a few northern states along the Mississippi. The southwest has pockets of progress. That leaves the southeast and a large set of states in the middle of the country where change has been difficult and slow in coming.

It’s an important reminder that legal change at the federal level still matters. For example, although many big, national corporations now see the equal treatment of LGBT employees as a good business decision, improving retention and recruitment of valuable employees and demonstrating good corporate values to customers and the public, there are a few notable holdouts, such as Exxon-Mobil. That’s where a federal policy can make a big difference. In fact, as a federal contractor, Exxon-Mobil will now be held to higher standards to comply with the president’s recent executive order: It will have to add sexual orientation and gender identity protections to its nondiscrimination policies.

So how do we get movement on those other laws? One place to start could be expanding the LGBT policy agenda – and joining forces with new political allies. Today, many LGBT leaders see those hard-won nondiscrimination laws of the past few years as only one element of an agenda of equal opportunity. For example, research demonstrates that LGBT people are more vulnerable than heterosexual people to poverty and food insecurity. To address those issues, LGBT activists could team up with a broader coalition of organizations to increase the minimum wage or advocate for paid family leave. LGBT groups have learned a lot about how to create cultural and political change over the last two decades, and that knowledge could be a valuable resource for allies in new causes – allies who could help spread the LGBT equality message to even more communities.

Of course, laws alone will not be enough. Even as we celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Civil Rights Act this year, the degree of continuing economic inequality between men and women or whites and blacks is still deeply troubling. The lesson there is that what comes after a policy change is at least as important as the new law, although enforcement and implementation are less exciting than the drama attached to their passage.

There’s still a lot of unexciting work to do on top of whatever drama awaits in the tougher states. But the LGBT movement is used to long odds. After all, no lesbian or gay man over 40 grew up thinking that they’d someday have the choice to marry their same-sex partner.

M. V. Lee Badgett is a Professor of Economics, and Director, Center for Public Policy Administration, at UMass Amherst. She is also a Williams Distinguished Scholar, Williams Institute, UCLA. This piece was originally published in New America’s digital magazine, The Weekly Wonk.

TIME LGBT

Smithsonian Expands Collection of LGBT Artifacts

National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
The facade of Smithsonian's National Museum of American History is lit up at dusk on June 4, 2013. John Greim—LightRocket /Getty Image

A donation from the TV show Will and Grace kicks off a wider effort to document the history of sexual orientation

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History announced Tuesday a significant expansion to its collection of artifacts documenting the history of America’s sexual minorities.

The expanded collection includes a donation of studio props from the television series Will and Grace, which debuted in 1998 with one of the first openly gay characters on primetime television. It also includes diplomatic passports from the first openly gay U.S. ambassador, David Huebner, and his husband, Duane McWaine, and a racquet that formerly belonged to transgender tennis player Renee Richards, who challenged a league-wide ban on transgendered players.

The museum said in a statement that the recent acquisitions mark a “long tradition of documenting the full breadth of the American experience and what it means to be an American. The LGBT narrative is an important part of that American story, and the Smithsonian has been documenting and collecting related objects for many years.”

 

TIME Culture

Game of Thrones Author Explains Why There’s No Gay Sex in His Books

George R.R. Martin
George R.R. Martin at the Season 3 premiere of HBO's "Game Of Thrones" on March 18, 2013 in Hollywood, Calif. Kevin Winter / Getty Images

"Will that change? It might."

There is plenty of sex — gay and straight — in the Game of Thrones TV show. It is HBO after all. But fans are curious as to why George R.R. Martin hasn’t included any gay sex scenes in his Song of Ice and Fire series upon which Game of Thrones is based.

The author addressed the issue at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in the U.K. on Monday night, according to the Guardian. Martin’s books are written through the viewpoints of various characters. None of the viewpoint characters are gay, so Martin hasn’t shown any gay sex scenes from their points of view. “A television show doesn’t have those limitations,” he said. “Will that change? It might. I’ve had letters from fans that want me to present particularly an explicit male sex scene — most of those letters come from women.”

“I’m not going to do it just for the sake of doing it,” he continued, “If the plot lends itself to that if one of my viewpoint characters is in a situation then I’m not going to shy away from it, but you can’t just insert things because everyone wants to see them. It is not a democracy. If it was a democracy, then Joffrey [the sadistic boy king] would have died much earlier than he did.”

[The Guardian]

TIME sexuality

An Open Letter to Robert Gates: The Boy Scouts Need to Accept Gay Adults

Pride Week 2014
A man with a peace flag roller skates alongside the Boy Scouts of America flag bearers in the New York City Pride Parade. Stacey Bramhall—Moment Editorial/Getty Images

On my 18th birthday, I must say goodbye to the organization that has shaped my youth.

I was just 4 years old when I went on my first camping trip with my older brother and his Cub Scouts pack. After that, I was hooked.

Scouting has been a constant part of my life since then. The Boy Scouts taught me everything from how to survive in the woods to the morals and values that shaped the person I am today. For that, and for the good times and friends I made through Scouting, I will always be grateful.

But today I have to say “goodbye.”

Today is my 18th birthday, a milestone on my path to becoming an adult and the day I am no longer eligible to be a Boy Scout because I am gay. Despite the Boy Scouts’ historic decision last year to open its ranks to gay youth, the Scouts still ban gay adults. And as of today, that means me.

In his first speech as the newly elected president of the Boy Scouts of America, former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that, although he supports allowing gay adults in Scouting, he will not take the leadership to make change.

Gates went on to argue that ending the ban on gay adults now could lead to the Boy Scouts’ ultimate demise. “And who would pay the price for destroying the Boy Scouts of America?” Gates asked. “We must always put the kids and their interests first.”

Except kids like me, it seems. Kids who have devoted their entire adolescence to Scouting, from Pinewood Derby to Eagle badge, only to be tossed out and told that we are predators.

In allowing the Boy Scouts’ ban on gay adults to continue—not because he believes it is the right thing to do, but because he is afraid of the possible consequences of enacting a fair policy—Mr. Gates is knowingly sacrificing thousands of devoted Scouts who happen to be gay. Scouts like me.

So today, I am hoping that you, Mr. Gates, will let me convince you to stop the sacrifices.

Mr. Gates, only you have the power and experience to bring an end to the unwarranted, unjust and un-Scout like ban on gay adults. Every day that you do nothing, more boys and parents struggle with their place in Scouting, in their communities and in their families.

Not long ago, Mr. Gates, you were instrumental in the repeal of the military’s ban on gay service members, telling the U.S. Senate in February 2010 that, “The question before us is not whether the military prepares to make this change [to allow gay service members], but how we best prepare for it.”

Openly gay adults will eventually be allowed in Scouting, Mr. Gates. As support for equality continues to grow, Americans will soon demand it. The question before you, then, is not whether the ban should end, but how many more young people like me will be a victim of your failed leadership if you do nothing.

Pascal Tessier is the first known openly gay Eagle Scout. His story has appeared in such outlets as the Associated Press, The New York Times, The Washington Post, NBC News, ABC News, TIME and more.

TIME Opinion

The Beta Marriage: How Millennials Approach ‘I Do’

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Archive Holdings Inc.—Getty Images

We are a generation reared on technology and choice. Why wouldn’t we want to test a lifelong relationship first? How millennials are redefining "forever"

You could say I beta-tested my relationship.​

It began with a platform migration ​(a cross-country move) and a bandwidth challenge (cohabitation in a 450-sq.-ft. apartment). There was a false start (botched marriage proposal). Then, an emergency deglitching (couples therapy). We tried to take the product public before we were ready (I wrote about our relationship in Newsweek). And then, finally, we abandoned launch. There were simply too many bugs.

It’s a joke, kind of — except that when it comes to millennials and marriage, the beta test may be par for the course. And really, why wouldn’t it be? For a generation reared on technology, overwhelmed by choice, feedback and constant FOMO, isn’t testing a marriage, like we test a username, simply … well, logical?

The findings of a new survey certainly reveal so. In conjunction with a new television drama, Satisfaction, which premiered on USA Network last week, trend researchers asked 1,000 people about their attitudes toward marriage. They found all sorts of things: among them, that people cheat on the Internet (uh huh), that young people don’t think their relationships are like their parents’ (of course), and that everyone seems to have taken to the term uncoupling (yuck).

marriage

They also uncovered a surprising gem. Buried in the data was the revelation that almost half of millennials (43%, and higher among the youngest subset) said they would support a marriage model that involved a two-year trial — at which point the union could be either formalized or dissolved, no divorce or paperwork required. Thirty-three percent said they’d be open to trying what researchers dubbed the “real estate” approach — marriage licenses granted on a five-, seven-, 10- or 30-year ARM, after which the terms must be renegotiated. And 21% said they’d give the “presidential” method a try, whereby marriage vows last for four years but after eight you can elect to choose a new partner.

In total, nearly half of all of those surveyed, ages 18 to 49 — and 53% of millennials — thought marriage vows should be renewed, and nearly 40% said they believed the “till death do us part” vow should be abolished. In other words: Beta marriages! Unions you can test and deglitch, work out kinks or simply abandon course without consequence. “This is a generation that is used to this idea that everything is in beta, that life is a work in progress, so the idea of a beta marriage makes sense,” the study’s author, Melissa Lavigne-Delville, tells me. “It’s not that they’re entirely noncommittal, it’s just that they’re nimble and open to change.”

It’s not a new concept, entirely. In the 1970s, the anthropologist Margaret Mead predicted the growing popularity of “serial monogamy,” involving a string of monogamous marriages. Helen Fisher, the biological anthropologist, has advocated for much of the same: she believes humans aren’t meant to be together forever, but in short-term, monogamous relationships of three or four years. Stephanie Coontz, the author of Marriage: A History, has advised a marriage contract “reup” every five years — or before every major transition in life — “with a new set of vows that reflect what the couple has learned.”

More recently, Mexico City lawmakers proposed (unsuccessfully) a “renewable” marriage concept, whereby couples could simply renew or dissolve their unions after a period of two years. It’s not so unlike the setup described by a young writer in a Modern Love column in the New York Times last month, about how she overcomes “marriage anxiety” by renewing her vows with her husband every year like clockwork. “I think people are indeed trying to avoid failure,” says Andrew Cherlin, the author of The Marriage-Go-Round.

And, why wouldn’t they? The U.S. has the highest divorce rate in the Western world. The data show clearly that the longer we wait to get married the more successful our marriages will be. And it’s not like we can’t move in together in the meantime: the rate of unmarried cohabitation has risen 1,000% over the past four decades. Not all of our marriages will work, no — but when they do, they’ll work better than at any other time in history, say scholars. And when they don’t, why not simply avoid the hassle of a drawn-out divorce?

“Millennials aren’t scared of commitment — we’re just trying to do commitment more wisely,” says Cristen Conger, a 29-year-old unmarried but cohabitating podcast host in Atlanta. “We rigorously craft our social media and online dating profiles to maximize our chances of getting a first date, and ‘beta testing’ is just an extension of us trying to strategize for future romantic success.”

In an era where, according to the survey, 56% of women and men think a marriage can be successful even if it doesn’t last forever, that might just make sense. Scholars have observed for some time that attitudes toward divorce have become more favorable over the past decade. Millennials in particular are more likely to view divorce as a good solution to matrimonial strife, according to the sociologist Philip Cohen — and more likely to believe it should be easier to obtain.

And, of course, it’s easy to understand why. We’re cynical. We are a generation raised on a wedding industry that could fund a small nation, but marriages that end before the ink has dried. (As one 29-year-old survey respondent put it: “We don’t trust that institution.”) We are also less religious than any other generation, meaning we don’t enter (or stay) committed simply for God. We feel less bound to tradition as a whole (no bouquet tosses here).

And while we have among the highest standards when it comes to a partner — we want somebody who can be a best friend, a business partner, a soul mate — we are a generation that is overwhelmed by options, in everything from college and first jobs to who we should choose for a partner. “This is a generation who has not had to make as many long-term commitments as previous generations, so the idea of not having an out feels a little stringent,” says Lavigne-Delville. “Divorce has happened for a long time. Maybe we should rethink the rules.”

Indeed, at the end of the day, whatever you want to say about the hookup generation, or millennials’ inability to commit, the vast majority (69%, according to Pew) of millennials still want to get married. We simply need a little extra time to work out the kinks.

“Getting married is so much more weighted today, I get the impulse to want to test it,” says Hannah Seligson, the 31-year-old married author of A Little Bit Married, about 20-somethings and long-term unmarried relationships. At the same time, she adds, “I wonder if this is a false control study in a way. Yes, marriage terrifying, it’s probably the biggest leap of faith you’ll ever make. But you’ll never be able to peer into a crystal ball — or map it out on a spreadsheet.”

Bennett is a contributing columnist at TIME.com covering the intersection of gender, sexuality, business and pop culture. A former Newsweek senior writer and executive editor of Tumblr, she is also a contributing editor for Sheryl Sandberg’s women’s foundation, Lean In. You can follow her @jess7bennett.

TIME Singapore

Singapore Has Banned an Archie Comic for Depicting a Gay Wedding

In an installment of Life With Archie first published in 2012, the franchise tackled the issue of gay marriage head on — by putting it on the cover. The Hollywood Reporter

A recent crackdown on publications discussing homosexuality sheds light on Singapore's traditional moral values and notoriously restricted press

State media censors in Singapore have banned the sale of an Archie comic book for its frank presentation of gay marriage, a matter that remains socially taboo and legally verboten in Southeast Asia’s most developed state.

Singapore’s Media Development Authority (MDA) censored the comic book, first published in January 2012, earlier this year, but the ban is only just now coming to light — a week after another state agency removed three children’s books promoting tolerance of same-sex relationships from the national library’s shelves.

The third installment in Archie: The Married Life, one of several spinoff series in the multifarious Archie universe, features the wedding of Kevin Keller, a gay character whose creation in 2010 earned writer Dan Parent a GLAAD Media Award last year. (In the latest volume, Archie dies taking a bullet for Kevin, now a U.S. Senator.)

As critic Alyssa Rosenberg noted Wednesday in The Washington Post, the 75-year-old comic book franchise has in recent years adopted a distinctly political subtext, taking on issues of topical significance as they come: Kevin, a gay solider, was introduced as the Obama administration was deliberating the end of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell; Archie’s interracial marriage made the cover in 2012.

Social progressivism isn’t really Singapore’s forte, though.

“[We]… found its content to be in breach of guidelines because of its depiction of the same sex marriage of two characters in the comic,” an MDA spokesperson said in a statement to TIME. “We thus informed the local distributor not to import or distribute the comic in retail outlets.”

In its guidelines for imported publications, the MDA prohibits comics and other illustrated material that depict or discuss “alternative lifestyles or deviant sexual practices,” listing homosexuality as an example of such (alongside “group sex and sadomasochism”).

Such stringent regulations are par for the course in Singapore, where social conservatism reigns supreme and strict curbs are placed on the dissemination of information. The country ranks 149th of the 179 countries listed in the 2013 Press Freedom Index — between Iraq and Vladimir Putin’s Russia — earning it the distinction of having the least free press of any developed economy in the world.

Concerning the recent purge of homosexual content, though, these restrictions may not be completely unwelcome. Sodomy, although rarely prosecuted, is criminalized as an act of “gross indecency,” and the majority of citizens, according to one survey, still take a “conservative approach” to marital and family matters. Indeed, the MDA claims to predicate its censorship decisions upon “public feedback or complaints,” and only turned its attention to the Archie comic after receiving a number of grievances.

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