Generating Discussion: Notes Toward a Queer History of Naturalization

In this article, Somerville explores the ways in which the state’s production of citizenship through naturalization in the United States has essentially been sexualized. She quotes Davina Cooper who states that not many scholars have investigated “the ways in which sexuality as a disciplinary structure, identity and culture shapes state form and practice” (660); the state as an institution is not separate from sexuality. The main view of immigrants is that they are “someone who desires America”; however, regardless to whether or not that is true, it is important to take note of how the state also plays a role by choosing desirable people to grant citizenship to.  

In the United States, citizenry has historically been replicated by either birthright citizenship or naturalization. Through birthright citizenship, a child does not have control over the status it receives because its status depends on factors such as where he/she was born or who his/her parents are. Citizenship is permitted to any person born in the United States or whose parents are already a citizen of the United States. Obviously, citizenry acquired through this manner involves sexual reproduction. In contrast, through naturalization, an immigrant deliberately and voluntarily commits to a “contractual relationship” with the state based on shared agreement. This process is seemingly nonsexual as it appears completely unrelated to sexual reproduction. However, “the very language of naturalization has historically been encumbered with assumptions about a heterosexual, reproductive subject, and so tends to reinforce the model of an organic, sexually reproduced citizenry” (663). Even this method uses the logic of the first method of birthright citizenship in which biological reproduction grants citizenship.

Somerville then discusses the history of federal legislation regarding immigration and naturalization. Governing immigration did not appear to be of much concern to lawmakers in the United States before the late nineteenth century. Even when naturalization was first regulated in 1906, the procedures were quite flexible and varied from state to state. However, the Naturalization Act of 1790 “implicitly constructs prospective citizens”. One way in which this was done was through children’s citizenship status. This legislation assumes that its potential or future citizens (that are white and free) will eventually be parents, “And the children of citizens of the United States…shall be considered as natural born citizens.” This sounds very similar to the framework of birthright citizenship. This focus on children implies that a “truly nonascriptive” reproduction of citizenship was never envisioned by lawmakers. This supposedly consensual citizenship of naturalization fails to separate citizenship from “(hetero)sexual reproduction”.


What are some ways, demonstrated here and/or elsewhere, in which sexuality shapes state legislation?

What are some similarities and differences between the two methods of citizenship: birthright citizenship and naturalization?

How does the legislation of naturalization contradict itself and fail to keep its liberal agreement?


Anxieties about Same-Sex Couples in the U.S. Raising Children

Same Sex Marriage

Same Sex Marriage (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The issue I will be discussing is the anxieties about same-sex couples in the United States raising children. The well-being of children has become the center of deliberation regarding same-sex marriage and the legalization of same-sex marriage. This matter has huge consequences for social policy. Marriage allows for benefits that unmarried couples do not have. “There should be equal opportunity for every couple to access the economic stability and federal supports provided to married couples to raise children” (Supreme Court gay-marriage cases draw attention to parenting). Opponents of same-sex marriage claim that same-sex marriage is not the “traditional marriage” – between a man and a woman- and therefore any nontraditional marriage is not a healthy or optimum environment to raise children. “Those who defend traditional marriage on the basis of children’s well-being need to provide strong empirical evidence supporting an association between traditional marriage itself and higher levels of children’s well-being” (Marriage and the Well-Being of Children). They should also have strong evidence that nontraditional couples show inadequacy in supporting and caring for children.

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Same-Sex Marriage in the U.S.

My topic is same-sex marriage in the Unites States. Specifically, I want to discuss this topic from the angle that those who oppose same-sex marriage often argue that a same-sex marriage is not an optimum environment for raising children and that homosexuality is condemned in the Bible. So I ask: As a society, are we redefining marriage? If so, what are the consequences and who gets to redefine marriage-the church, the government, etc? Are homosexual parents less adequate than heterosexual parents? What does the Bible say or not say about homosexuality?

I have included: an article that discusses the impacts of same-sex marriage on raising  children, a blog that explains how the Bible has been misinterpreted to say homosexuality is a sin, an anti-gay commercial I found on YouTube that gives the message that a marriage should only be between a man and a woman, and an article/studyexamining the impact of same-sex parents vs. different-sex parents on children with the dependent variables being delinquent behaviors and such.

I have been passionate about advocating the acceptance of homosexuality for awhile now. I am a Christian and it pains me that so many people, especially Christians, think homosexuality is a sin, an abomination, etc. and people are using the Bible to justify their violence against homosexuals.