SF Pride Flip Flops on Bradley Manning Invite as one of Parade’s Grand Marshalls
San Francisco Pride Committee (SFPC) surprised everyone earlier this week when they announced they’d chosen controversial, Gay soldier and WikiLeaks figure, PFC Bradley Manning, as Honorary Grand Marshall of the upcoming 2013 LGBT Pride Parade on June 30th.
Many in the community applauded Manning’s choice as a brave and forward thinking move on the part of SFPC while others-most notably Queer military organizations, veterans groups and conservative LGBT politicos, GOProud and Log Cabin-were outraged.
OutServe-SLDN‘s co-chairman Josh Seefried, tweeted his frustration with SF Pride’s announcement:
— Josh Seefried (@JoshSeefried) April 26, 2013
Friday SF Pride Board President, Lisa Williams, responding to criticism and calls for a threatened boycott of the June event by LGBT military organizations released a statement via SFPC Facebook page claiming that Manning was not now, nor was he ever going to be, SF Pride’s Grand Marshall. In part it reads:
His nomination was a mistake and should never have been allowed to happen. A staff person at SF Pride, acting under his own initiative, prematurely contacted Bradley Manning based on internal conversations within the SF Pride organization. That was an error and that person has been disciplined. He does not now, nor did he at that time, speak for SF Pride.
The Nobel Peace Prize nominated, 25-year-old Manning faces a variety of charges for his alleged whistle blowing leaking 750,000 documents and cables holding a myriad of data regarding US military and diplomatic information and practices. These documents have proven to be very damaging to both the Obama and former President Geo. Dubya Bush’s administration revealing lies and many diplomatic misrepresentations around both the ongoing Afghanistan conflict, Iraq war and the U.S.’s diplomatic mission worldwide.
His court-martial trial is currently underway. He’s pled guilty to 10 out of 22 charges he faces. The one charge he has not pled guilty to is ‘aiding the enemy’. He’s been held in a variety of jails for more than a 1000 days-often in isolation and according to the ACLU-under cruel and inhumane conditions.
Many within the SF LGBT community have taken up his cause campaigning for Manning’s release. The Castro has seen Manning supporters at Harvey Milk Plaza often gathering signatures, passing out stickers and educating the community about him and his trial.
Ms. Williams leaves little room for doubt about her and the SFPC’s views and opinions regarding Mr. Manning and the accusations surrounding him saying in the April 26th statement:
However, until that time, [as Manning is found innocent or exonerated] even the hint of support for actions which placed in harm’s way the lives of our men and women in uniform — and countless others, military and civilian alike — will not be tolerated by the leadership of San Francisco Pride. It is, and would be, an insult to every one, gay and straight, who has ever served in the military of this country.
Manning supporters within the community and neighborhood are now as angry about SFPC’s reversal as the LGBT military service members were about him being chosen in the first place. Activists took to social networking sites to vent their displeasure regarding the back pedal and what many called insulting statement.
The comment section following SF Pride’s Facebook statement are riddled with rancor. Adrianne Braccialle wrote, “Pride has strayed far from its Stonewall roots. What a disgusting statement. Bradley Manning didn’t put anyone in danger. The U.S.. government puts the world in danger.”
Local activist, Alan Peck, wryly wrote, “Well let’s hope everyone forgets about this messy political business so we move on to what Pride is really about now – selling as much Absolut vodka as possible.”
Other local coverage has been more blunt. The nationally recognized blog, SFist, called SF Pride Committee’s decision, “spineless” and “straight up bullshit.”
Casual anecdotal observation, based on the wealth of comments following reports and posts about the story from a variety of national news sources like; The Advocate, The Atlantic, CBS News and The Washington Post have placed SFPC squarely on the wrong side of this fight. A majority of all commenters support leaving Manning as Grand Marshall even though he’d be unable to attend due to his ongoing incarceration.
Bradley Manning supporters have had a contingent in SF LGBT Pride March since 2011 and surely this controversy will drive up the size of their ranks this June.
Ms. Williams welcomes them saying, “Under the US Constitution, they have a first amendment right to show up, participate and voice their opinions at Pride this year.”
I think SFPC and Ms. Williams should certainly count on that.