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The Advocate
Author: Ryan McDonald
Interviewer: Lawrence Ferber
Date: 06-

Bette Midler has been adored by gay audiences for her entire career. So why is she so wishy - washy about supporting same-sex marriage?

Once upon a time, before it was chic to befriend gay men, Bette Midler worked in gay bathhouses and went on national TV and talked about it. Gays swarmed to her side, and not long after, the Divine Miss M was sashaying her way to throngs of gay fans and quickly becoming an icon and advocate for the community. But that was then Ė nearly three decades ago. Nowadays the vivacious entertainer does what she can to dodge questions about gay marriage, seemingly more concerned with not making waves than with the equal rights of a good chunk of her fan base.

Case in point: On Larry King Live last November Midler failed to lend her public support to same-sex marriage, questioned gay menís interest in monogamy, and spouted her prudish parental remarks regarding the famous Britney-Madonna kiss.

Soon after the King interview, a letter in support of gay marriages surfaced on the Internet, supposedly written by Midler. She quickly denied being the author.

Midler, who gave the following interview during a recent press junket for her upcoming film The Stepford Wives, seems to have forgotten that her most loyal fans Ė those who support has given her four-decade career its success and buoyancy Ė are gay. It seems weíve lost Betteís wind beneath our wings. -- Ryan MacDonald

Can I get a gay marriage quote?

As soon as Iím gay Iím going to get married. What do you want me to say? You want me to talk about my letter that I didnít write?

What was up with that?

I donít know. I got the history of it: This wonderful guy (Mister D: She's talkin about me! Who knew???) who runs my Web site found out this girl had written a blog. It was on her blog, and then either she or somebody else posted it on Melissa Ethridgeís site, and from there they signed my name and sent it all over the country. I thought it was really a nice letter; it was beautifully written. But I didnít write it, and I was taken aback because it is shocking that someone can take your name and assign something to you that you didnít say. Thatís not American, really, so it was shocking to me. But I thought it was fabulous Ö. It was a great letter.

Does its sentiment stand? Do you agree?

To tell you the truth, I have not done the due diligence on it that I should be doing. I donít know Ö. I understand the laws and wanting to be Ö I donít understand any of the politics and any of the benefit things, health insurance, the children taken away, and all that. I havenít done that part. I havenít done enough research or reading on it to have an informed opinion.

So I have to do that and tell you the truth: Iíve been on the road and wouldnít want to say the wrong thing. I donít want to offend anybody. I like everyone; I want everyone to be happy. I just donít know what it means. So Iíd like to do the reading and then figure out what all these people are talking about.

After you do that I look forward to your coming out and saying something. We need you, Bette.

I donít think you do. I think youíre doing just fine.