Fragmented Citizens: The Changing Landscape of Gay and Lesbian Lives

Stephen M. Engel. New York Univ., $35 (432p) ISBN 978-1-4798-0912-7
Political scientist Engel (American Politicians Confront the Court) analyzes the complexity of citizenship for lesbian, gay, and bisexual Americans through an American political development (APD) framework, examining the relationship between queer citizens and government institutions from the late 19th century to present. Engel traces the evolution of different "modalities" through which homosexual and bisexual lives have been understood, with homosexuality conceptualized as sexual perversion and dangerous moral weakness, as the status of an oppressed minority, as private behavior not subject to legal scrutiny and thus invisible, and as a personal identity with associated social implications. He shows that these changing viewpoints occur inconsistently and on different timelines in Supreme Court decisions, state governments, private employers, activist organizations, and public referenda, which results in a shifting mix of rights in different workplaces, military service, and other jurisdictions. Engel argues this fragmented semi-citizenship status is not entirely resolved. He supports his thesis well with detailed and thoughtful analyses of key legal cases and decisions over the last 50 years, keeping tightly to his conceptual framework and offering a solid structure for understanding the chaotic development of rights for sexual minorities in the United States. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/16/2016
Release date: 05/01/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 432 pages - 978-1-4798-5347-2
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