Kerry Eleveld has more background on what led to Lady Gaga’s trip to Maine today to rally for repeal of DADT. It’s a very strategic move, targeting that state’s two Senators: Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe:
“We know that Lady Gaga can move young people,” Thomas said, noting that she has more followers on twitter than the president (@ladygaga edges out @BarackObama by nearly a million followers). He added that SLDN had been sending action alerts to its 80,000 subscribers asking them to call their senators for the past several weeks. Short of the Gaga intervention, he said his organization would simply be sending out the same action alert on Monday that it did on Friday.
“So this is an unprecedented opportunity to reach people all across the country and drive calls to the Senate switchboard,” he said.
SLDN has seen its website numbers skyrocket since Lady Gaga took soldiers discharged under the discriminatory policy as escorts to the Video Music Awards last Sunday.
During the week before the VMAs (September 5–11), for instance, SLDN.org had 6,904 visitors with 15,101 page views, according to Thomas.
But in the week following her VMA appearance (September 12–18), the site had 211,940 visitors with 360,145 page views. Overall, it represented a 91.93% in new visitors to the site.
Thomas said Lady Gaga made the “last-minute decision” to attend Monday’s rally on Saturday evening after speaking with SLDN’s staff and executive director Aubrey Sarvis. The move required some logistical rejiggering since she is currently touring to promote her newly released album, The Remix. The pop star, known for her outlandish and ever-changing costuming, was in North Carolina where she performed in Charlotte and had a show Sunday evening in Raleigh.
“This is a big commitment,” Thomas said of the impromptu detour to Maine. “She is on tour and her team has been enormously supportive throughout this process and very responsive.”
During the past couple critical weeks leading up to the Senate vote, Gaga has taken an increasingly high-profile role in pressing Washington politicians to pass repeal. After her VMA appearance, she made a video about the policy in which she was recorded calling New York Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer (it now has over 1.3 million views).
“She kept asking us what else she could do,” Thomas said.
That’s more than we can say about some of our supposed allies.
I can report that this event is getting major coverage in Maine. Last night, my parents held the phone up to their t.v. so I could hear one of the news reports. And, the Press Herald has this article, which includes this passage:
But Collins, who in May voted to support the repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law while serving as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is expressing reluctance.
“Sen. Collins was the only Republican (on the committee) to vote for the provision that would repeal don’t ask, don’t tell. … She believes that our armed forces should welcome the service of any qualified individual who is willing and capable to serve our country,” said Collins’ spokesman, Kevin Kelley.
Collins has encouraged Reid to work with Republican leaders to negotiate an agreement that would allow amendments to the Defense Authorization Bill, Kelley said.
What does that even mean??? In DC, Snowe and Collins can issue obtuse statements like that about Senate procedure and amendments. It works with the Capitol Hill press. But, it sounds ridiculous to spew that kind of double talk in the real world.
There’s a big spotlight on Collins and Snowe now. They can’t hide from this vote.