Right Piles on Lady Gaga for Gay Activism

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Tuesday September 21, 2010

The anti-gay right is piling on Lady Gaga for her pro-LGBT equality activism, especially her recent comments favoring the repeal of the ban on openly gay troops in the armed forces.

The best-selling pop music phenomenon addressed a rally in Maine on Sept. 20 to urge that state's senators to stand behind a provision in the current defense budget bill that would set aside Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT), the 17-year-old law, passed in 1993, which mandates separation from the service of any member of the military who comes out as gay or lesbian. Lady Gaga also created a video on Sept. 16, addressing the full Senate on the issue and citing Arizona Sen. John McCain by name. McCain has threatened a filibuster of the legislation unless the language pertaining to DADT is removed.

In her address in Maine, Lady Gaga referred to equality under the law as a Constitutional right and likened the right of GLBT Americans to serve in uniform to the "prime rib" of America's primary ethic, democracy.

Anti-gay blogger Peter Labarbera, at Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, claimed that heterosexual servicemembers were already leaving the military, and decried the effort to repeal DADT as a form of "discrimination against chaplains and people of faith in the Armed Services" in a Sept. 21 posting.

The blog posting called the Sept. 21 vote on the defense spending bill the "Most Important Gay Vote Ever," condemned Lady Gaga as a "sexual radical," and urged readers to contact their senators to urge them to vote against the bill.

"You must let your voice be heard as homosexual groups and sexual radicals like Lady Gaga--encouraged by the liberal media--are flooding the Senate with calls in favor of allowing open homosexuals in the military," warned the blog posting.

The posting also cited ant-gay activist Elaine Donnelly of the Center for Military Readiness, an organization that has claimed that rescinding the anti-gay ban would result in "unprecedented social problems" in the armed forces. Text at the group's web site also dismisses repeal of the anti-gay law as "weakening" America's military might. The arguments advanced by the Center for Military Readiness and Peter Labarbera echo arguments by anti-gay activists in the Britain prior to the repeal of the U.K.'s own anti-gay ban in 2000. In actual fact, no upheavals or mass exodus from the military resulted.

The U.K. is not alone in having set aside its anti-gay ban on military service. All of the United State's Western allies have long since integrated their military services.

The fact that a popular entertainer was urging repeal of DADT was a focus of the posting at Americans for Truth. "Lady Gaga (real name: Stefani Germanotta), an admitted bisexual, is currently pop culture's biggest celebrator of homosexuality," Labarbera wrote. "She extols 'gayness,' androgyny and deviance in general, lives to serve her 'gay' fans, and loves break down boundaries with her shocking behavior."

Anti-Gay Blogger: Youth 'At Risk'

The posting went on to add, "The cold, hard truth is the pro-natural-family side has largely lost the younger generations on the homosexual question--after years of pro-homosexuality indoctrination in schools and Gaga-esque saturation-bombing of pro-'gay' messages in pop culture and Hollywood. We need to find a way to get them back toward the truth--but right now, we need to stop President Obama, Sen. Reid and the Democrats from turning the U.S. Military into a gargantuan Homosexuality-Promoting Bureaucracy--thus leading to discrimination against chaplains and people of faith in the Armed Services and driving good men and women from serving and re-enlisting in the military."

Newsbusters reported in a Sept. 20 story that openly gay MSNBC host Thomas Roberts was trying to coax Lady Gaga onto his show through a Twitter campaign, and noted that Roberts had likened the pop star to Joan Baez.

The site provided a transcript of a conversation between Roberts and Michael Smerconish on Lady Gaga's address in Maine. Said Smerconish, "Thomas, I get nervous when entertainment figures weigh in on matters of politics. But long ago I had to cross the bridge and say if I pick my entertainers by politics, I would have nobody to listen to and no movies to watch."

Added Smerconish of Lady Gaga, "She has a constituency. And we are such a segmented society." Smerconish went on, "And I'm sure she has a constituency that Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins may not hear from on this issue or any other. So, for that matter, yeah. I take it seriously. I think that there's a group of people will come out and be energized like they haven't because of Lady Gaga."

The media linked Lady Gaga with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid when it was reported that the day after Lady Gaga issued a plea for repeal of the anti-gay law, Reid called for a vote on the bill that would set DADT aside. A spokesperson for Reid said that the timing was a matter of coincidence, but the media also reported that Reid had tweeted Lady Gaga in the issue.

"In all likelihood, though, Reid's shot himself in both feet on this one, and I think he's done it on purpose," wrote Christopher Berger for the Atlanta Conservative Examiner. Berger noted that a yearlong review of the ban is currently in process, and also referenced a recent court decision finding that DADT is unconstitutional.

Berger also noted a second controversial provision in the defense bill that Reid had added, the DREAM Act, which would open an avenue to citizenship for non-resident aliens who come to the U.S. as children and subsequently serve in the U.S. Armed Forces.

"Leaving aside that this has little or nothing to do with the military (aside from one of the ways to satisfy one of the several requirements being two years military service), the DREAM Act should have a separate vote," wrote Berger.

"If the GOP blocks cloture, [Reid] can bludgeon them with DADT, even though (a) DADT won't have been why the measure failed and (b) proposed separately, DADT would pass this Senate without a hitch," Berger went on. "It's questionable whether the same will be true of the new Senate in January."

A story about Lady Gaga meeting with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York in the issue was posted at right-wing chat site FreeRepublic.com, where news items of gay interest are avidly discussed. One chat participant dismissed Lady Gaga as "Lady Hermaphrodite," while another slammed the Gillibrand/Lady Gaga exchange as a matter of "One ditz speaking with another."

"Who takes this this plastic automaton seriously?" one posting read. Another referred to the singer as "a human trainwreck and not attractive in the least. She is proof that damn near anyone can become a pop star." Lady Gaga's success was attributed to gay industry insiders by another, who wrote, "if you want a career, you had better play nice with them."

Wrote one participant, "Personally I dont get the whole DADT thing. If they want the sign up I see no reason why they shouldn't be able to. We should be glad when anybody signs up for the military."

The posting continued, "Look at WW2. I'm sure there were plenty of gay guys. 60,000+ stormed Omaha and Utah Beaches. The math will tell you at least a few hundred were gay."

Another posting took a different tack: "That bitch knows nothing about the military, why is she advocating for gays in the military? Who speaks for the military?"

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.