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09.20.10

Can Lady Gaga Break a Filibuster?

The world’s top pop star marshaled her followers today at a Maine rally against “Don’t Ask, Don’t tell.” But her unconventional approach—likening gay rights to prime ribs and a “meat dress”—will have to persuade the state’s Republican senators to break from their party.

The world’s top pop star marshaled her followers today at a Maine rally against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” But her unconventional approach—likening gay rights to prime ribs and a “meat dress”—will have to persuade the state’s Republican senators to break from their party.

In a turn of phrase impressive even for a pop musician known for turning “poker face” into sexual innuendo, Lady Gaga has managed to turn her notorious “ meat dress” into a metaphor for gay rights.

“Equality is the prime rib of what we stand for as a nation,” she told a crowd of 2,000 in Portland, Maine, on Monday at a rally aimed at drumming up support for repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” “Shouldn’t everyone deserve the right to wear the same meat dress that I get?”

Gaga’s appearance—which was announced via Twitter only yesterday—occurred on the eve of a U.S. Senate vote on whether to repeal the Clinton-era policy barring gays from serving in the military. She hoped to pressure Maine’s centrist senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins to break with their Republican colleagues and override a filibuster to secure the repeal’s passage.

Snowe and Collins are both under increasing political pressure within their own party, with recent polls indicating they are more popular with Democratic voters in Maine than with Republican ones, who say they favor more conservative candidates.

In her forceful speech, Lady Gaga, who wore blond hair, glasses, a white shirt, dark blazer, and white polka dot tie, argued that if U.S. forces experienced problems with unit cohesion or were distracted from combat readiness, the fault lies with the homophobic troops, not the gay ones.

“Equality is the prime rib of what we stand for as a nation,” Lady Gaga told a crowd of 2,000.

“If you are not committed to perform with excellence as a U.S. soldier because you don’t believe in full equality, go home!,” the pop star said of her suggested replacement policy. “The straight soldier who fights for some freedom or some quality but not the equality of the gay—he or she is the one who under this new proposition who will be discharged!”

Colin Woodard is an award-winning journalist and the author of The Republic of Pirates, The Lobster Coast, and Ocean's End. His ecclectic beats include Balkan affairs, Maine culture and politics, ocean science and policy, global warming, and North American colonial history. He lives in Portland, Maine.