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Developmental Perspectives on Lesbian and Gay Politics: Fragmented Citizenship in a Fragmented State

  • Stephen M. Engel

Responding to recent criticism that American political development (APD) has yet to fully engage with both contemporary and historical matters related to lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) politics, I use citizenship to provide one way to do so. Drawing on the central insight of APD scholarship that the polity is a composite of multiple clashing governing orders and by viewing citizenship as a relational dynamic between the individual and the state, I argue that citizenship is fractured across time, space, and policy issue. This claim is illustrated by two case studies: first, how gay, lesbian, and bisexual military participation has been redefined over time by the Department of Defense, with each policy shift toward equality revealing previously unseen and persistent inequities, and second, how conflicts between marriage and parental recognition have emerged after states recognize same-sex marriage. I aim to demonstrate how APD concepts can be fruitfully applied to yield new insights about institutional authority and the meaning and content of citizenship status. In short, much can be gained by increased developmental attention to gay and lesbian politics.

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