U.S. Republican presidential candidate and Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann has made some pretty bold statements in the past about homosexuality and same-sex marriage. She has claimed that homosexuality causes “personal bondage, personal despair, and personal enslavement.” Her husband Marcus Bachmann has even referred to homosexuals as “barbarians” who need to be “disciplined.” (http://www.christianpost.com/news/bachmanns-explain-gay-comments-express-love-of-gay-stepsister-59160/) Despite these past comments, Bachmann and her husband are supposedly going to clarify their opinions on homosexuality in the October 31 edition of People Magazine. It is believed that they will still admit that they oppose same-sex marriage, but they do not mind if people choose to be gay.
Being that Bachmann is a Republican, I’m not at all surprised that she opposes same-sex marriage. However, in U.S. politics today, many voters are easily influenced by hot button issues, and most Americans aren’t afraid to vote with the opposite party. I think this is why Bachmann is trying to alleviate the stance that she has previously taken on homosexuality because she risks turning away moderate voters, or even Republicans who happen to support homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Regardless of her intentions, it seems very plausible that with the 2012 elections in mind, this is simply a sham to win back some votes.
Bachmann’s stance on homosexuality reminds me a lot of Shklar’s notion of citizenship as standing. In my opinion, Bachmann is singling out gays and lesbians and excluding them from the rest of Americans. Despite her recent claims, she has made it clear in the past that she is against homosexuality on all accounts. Bachmann is labeling homosexuals as others, those who fall outside the realm of what should be accepted in society. Bachmann isn’t the only one who labels gays and lesbians. Many people, both inside and outside of politics, hold this stigma towards homosexuals. To me, that makes these “others” fall outside the realm of citizens as standing because they are viewed as “different.” Anyone who isn’t accepted for who they are by everyone in society loses this citizenship as standing because they are viewed as being inferior.
This stigma towards homosexuals in general is certainly one way they’re excluded from citizenship as standing. However, the legal aspects of same-sex marriage also raise the question of whether or not Shklar would believe that homosexuals have citizenship as standing. We talk about the right to vote, the right to earn, the right to an education, but what about the right to marriage? Very few states actually allow same-sex marriage. In “What the Black Man Wants,” Douglass argues for liberty, justice, and equality for all men, so doesn’t this include the right to marry who one chooses? I’m certainly not trying to argue that same-sex marriage should be legalized in all states, but rather I’m claiming that by denying homosexuals the right to marriage and perceiving them as being different, queer, or outsiders, they have lost their citizenship as standing.