Since she first broke into the mainstream two years ago, Lady Gaga has used her fame to bring gay rights issues to the forefront. In the past few weeks, she has focused squarely on the repeal of the U.S. military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, including bringing several casualties of the law to the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards in Los Angeles and recording a video that encourages her fans to contact their senators to oppose the policy. On Monday (September 20), Gaga will host a rally in Portland, Maine, organized by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), in an effort to get the two senators from the state — Republicans Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins — to vote to break a filibuster and repeal the DADT policy in Tuesday's procedural vote in Washington, D.C.
Those gathered at the rally will also hear testimonial from Danny Hernandez, a former Marine who was discharged from the military for "don't ask, don't tell" violations. "I was in the Marine Corps and was under investigation for violating 'don't ask, don't tell,' and I ended up working with SLDN in Washington," Hernandez explained to MTV News in a Skype interview from Portland. "They represented me, and it was through them I began working for them and getting involved with Lady Gaga."
Hernandez first got the opportunity to meet the singer a few weeks ago after a concert in Washington. "I was a little skeptical at first," Hernandez said of Gaga's involvement with the cause. "I love her music but wouldn't consider myself a Little Monster. I got the chance to meet her in D.C., and she genuinely cared about the issue. It was then I realized that she's serious about this issue and getting the word out."
Though Hernandez was a victim of a "don't ask, don't tell" discharge — one among 14,000 similar cases — he hasn't let that get in the way of his dream of service. "I've been wanting to serve in the military for as long as I can remember," he said. "My brother, my cousins — everybody is in the Marine Corps. It's a family thing. To have been discharged was one of the worst things to ever happen to me, but that's why I'm a part of this cause. And it's meaningful to the people around me as well as the people still serving in silence. But I'd like to get back into the military as soon as possible."
The procedural vote — which would merely clear the bill (which has already been approved by the House of Representatives) for discussion on the Senate floor — is scheduled to occur on Tuesday afternoon.
What do you think of Lady Gaga's involvement with trying to repeal "don't ask, don't tell"? Let us know in the comments.