Lady Gaga supports gay rights
A picturesque New England fall afternoon provided the perfect backdrop for a political rally in Portland, ME this past Monday. The purpose of the rally was to convince Maine's two U.S. Republican Senators, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, to support a repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," in a vote that took place in Congress last Tuesday, September 21.
"Don't ask, don't tell" is the U.S. military policy that bans gay, lesbian and bisexual service members from openly acknowledging their sexual orientation. Although the repeal did not pass, the rally boasted an impressive turnout and helped to raise awareness about gay rights in the state of Maine.
The highlight of the rally was a keynote speech by Lady Gaga, an international pop sensation who has made a name for herself with her outlandish costumes and bizarre music videos. While she did not perform any songs, Lady Gaga's speech resonated with the crowd, garnering cheers and shrieks of joy.
Chris Kasprak '12, was impressed by Lady Gaga's speech, which she wrote entirely on her own. "She was very passionate and well-spoken," Kasprak said.
In her speech, Lady Gaga railed against the law, and she even went so far as to suggest that there should be a new law that targets straight soldiers who are "uncomfortable" with gay soldiers in their presence. "Our new law is called 'If you don't like it, go home!'" Lady Gaga said.
"I was really impressed by how many people turned up, given the fact that Lady Gaga's appearance was announced fewer than 24 hours in advance," Kasprak said. "And while there were definitely people there who were only interested in seeing Lady Gaga, the majority of people there were dedicated to supporting the repeal of don't ask, don't tell," Kasprak said.
In addition to Lady Gaga, the Washington-based Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a national non-profit organization defending soldiers discharged under the policy, hosted a broad array of speakers at Monday's rally. Former members of every branch of the armed forces described their experiences with the law and urged the crowd to contact their Senators to help defeat the Republican led Filibuster repeal. Portland Mayor Nicholas Mavodones, Jr. and Maine Congresswoman Chellie Pingree also spoke.
Unfortunately, Democrats in Congress were unable to sway a single Republican vote to repeal the policy this past Tuesday. The final vote was 56-43, four votes short of the required 60 it needed in order to pass.
This failure to repeal the law marks a low point in the more than a decade-long effort to protect the rights of homosexuals in the military, as Democrats had gathered the most support to date for the repeal of the law.