Although the rest of the American politics subfield has taken up many of the research challenges that LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) politics poses, there has been very little attention to LGBT politics within APD (American political development). Yet LGBT politics has deeply developmental and “state-centered” dynamics. Until the middle of the twentieth century, sexual orientation was simply not widely and deeply politicized in the United States. But abruptly, in a period of a decade and a half (roughly 1940–1955), national political and bureaucratic actors created a national sexuality regime that has taken 60 years of LGBT struggle to partly reverse. In seeking to substitute a different, overtly inclusive sexuality regime, LGBT citizens and their straight allies have initiated far-reaching changes in public policy, regulation of the workplace, and the institution of marriage. American politics has thus been developed by LGBT politics—and in the process, a fruitful research agenda has emerged.

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An Interview with Richard Valelly

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A week after U.S. President Barack Obama announced his support of same-sex marriage, author Richard Valelly discusses the significance of such a move and walks us through the history of the rights of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered people, explaining how this movement shaped the landscape of American politics.

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