SF Pride Final Decision-Manning Out as Marshal, Advocates Not Surprised

Pro Manning Graffiti outside of SF Pride's corporate offices. Photo: Liz Highleyman

Pro Manning Graffiti outside of SF Pride’s corporate offices. Photo: Liz Highleyman

The San Francisco Pride board announced on Friday its decision not to recognize Pfc. Bradley Manning as a grand marshal for this year’s parade, angering but not surprising community activists.

Manning, the openly queer soldier who released thousands of U.S. government documents through Wikileaks, was chosen as a community grand marshal by an “electoral college” of former marshals. Two days after his selection was announced in April, the board rescinded the honor, stating that “even the hint of support” for Manning’s actions “will not be tolerated.” The board and SF Pride CEO Earl Plante later cited obscure organizational policies to claim that Manning was not eligible for community grand marshal because he is not local.

The board agreed to reconsider after a heated community meeting on May 31, at which more than fifty people spoke in support of Manning, while only three supported the dis-invite. Speakers suggested that the board reinstate Manning as grand marshal, come up with an alternative honor, or move the Bradley Manning support contingent to the front of the parade. Plante and board chair Lisa Williams said a decision would be forthcoming within seven days.

Manning supporters held a late afternoon press conference on June 7 outside Pride headquarters on Market Street in anticipation of the decision, but as the presser kicked off at 5:30 pm, the board still had not issued a statement.

Joey Cain original Manning nominated as Grand Marshall speaks at the June, 8th press conference. Photo: Liz Highleyman

Joey Cain original Manning nominated as Grand Marshall speaks at the June, 8th press conference. Photo: Liz Highleyman

“This shows the contempt with which they hold the LGBT community,” Joey Cain, the former SF Pride board president who nominated Manning, told a crowd of about 25 reporters and community members. “This is absolutely unacceptable.”

Cain pointed out that SF Pride’s Policy and Procedures Manual contains rules regarding selection of grand marshals and “Pink Brick” recipients that the board itself has violated, including naming more than the prescribed number of community grand marshals.

“I think it makes it pretty clear that adherence to policy was never the real issue regarding Bradley Manning’s election by the Electoral Collage,” Cain concluded. “The Pride leadership overturned that election because of the pressure they got from groups outside of San Francisco, period.”

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano Photo: Liz Highleyman

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano Photo: Liz Highleyman

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano also addressed the crowd. “In the DNA of the Gay march, there is always contention,” he said. “Whether Bradley Manning gets to be a ‘grand marshal’ or not, he’s part of the expression of who we are. Bradley Manning may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but that doesn’t matter…that’s our strength.”

“Irrespective of what you think about Bradley Manning, there a fundamental problem all of us should have with way this has been handled — it’s a classic example of how not to deal with a crisis,” said District 9 Supervisor David Campos, who encouraged the board to hold last week’s meeting and pressured them to reconsider their decision. “Pride does not belong to one group, it belongs to all of us.”

Rainy Reitman from the Bradley Manning Support Committee and Electronic Frontier Foundation, who just returned from Manning’s hearing at Ft Meade, noted that just 16 seats were provided for the public and only one-fifth of journalists who asked to cover the trial were admitted. “The government doesn’t want us to hear what he says, because it knows we will understand he acted from conscience,” she said.

Alluding to last week’s revelations about government surveillance of Verizon phone calls and data transmitted via Google, Facebook, and other Internet giants, which were leaked to Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald, Reitman added, “This week, of all weeks, I think we all understand the value of whistleblowers.”

Lisa Geduldig  tries to call SF Pride but gets no response. Photo: Liz Highleyman

Lisa Geduldig tries to call SF Pride but gets no response. Photo: Liz Highleyman

Other speakers at the press conference included Sue Englander of the Harvey Milk Democratic Club and long-time activist Tommi Avicolli Mecca. Lisa Geduldig ended the presser by dialing SF Pride’s office in a final attempt to get a statement, only to hear an answering machine stating that the membership voice mailbox is full.

Pride did finally issue a statement at 6:28 pm, soon after the presser ended, stating in part:

Over the past several weeks, SF Pride has sought to respectfully listen to and consider the various opinions and perspectives on the matter of Pfc. Bradley Manning and related interests in extending representative support for Pfc. Manning. The SF Pride Board of Directors recognizes the divergent opinions regarding the matter of Pfc. Manning, but none of the three main options we received from the community forum on May 31 garnered a consensus majority.

Although the meaning of “consensus majority” is not clear to this reporter, Cain indicated via Facebook comments that the board has not historically made decisions by unanimous consensus.

“I’m not disappointed in the statement because I wasn’t expecting anything from the Pride board,” Avicolli Mecca told the Castro Biscuit. “Whatever board members were thinking, or not thinking, it’s obvious that they have no respect for those who disagree with them, for the community they should be serving, or for fairness of any kind. The bottom line for me, and I can’t emphasize this enough, is that Bradley Manning IS grand marshal and hundreds of us will be marching to honor him on June 30.”

Liz Highleyman

Liz Highleyman is a San Francisco-based freelance journalist and medical writer focusing on HIV and hepatitis, sexuality, activism, and civil liberties.

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15 Responses

  1. uppityfag says:

    Three weeks until June 30!!

    The Pride Board may be contributing more to the Bradley Manning cause than they think they would have by allowing him to be Grand Marshal.

    I’d still like to know what is motivating their animus toward Manning. Which local figures/organizations have enough sway over Pride to make this an issue. If Pride was bothered they had a month to make this nomination/election not happen…it wasn’t a problem until Manning won.

    Why do those influences want to remain silent?

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

    • rblack says:

      “Which local figures/organizations have enough sway over Pride to make this an issue.”

      Corporate sponsors is my guess.

      I’m not entirely convinced that politicians would care enough about it. At the end of the day, this is still San Francisco. I just can’t see Mayor Lee squashing Pride’s GM selection.

      I can however see BoA etc… not wanting to be associated with Manning and threatening to pull out should he be featured in any way. Not even that the companies even care about the politics, but worrying more about not being seen to do anything too “controversial”.

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      • uppityfag says:

        Many have suggested that it is sponsor pressure, but I don’t think they care enough about Bradley Manning to be concerned about association with him. What do Wells Fargo or BofA care about one grand marshal?

        Plus – the decision to rescind the election of Manning happened SO quickly. Did anyone at a bank or a booze company even know Manning won an election let alone have time to get up in arms about it??

        Less than 48 hours transpired between the announcement of GMs and the overturn of the election.

        There are local Democrats that have interests in not being associated with what is easy to frame a “leftist” move to draw attention to someone that blew the whistle on crimes committed by the Democratic President and endorsed by the Democrats in Congress – one of which was speaker of the House and the other is a quasi human known as Feinstein.

        Never underestimate the ambitions of LGBT politicians Democrat or Republican. Lisa Williams was an organizer for Obama – the President that pretended to be opposed to Bush policies that has extended many of them and may not appreciate being forced to change policy because Bradley Manning exposed their corruption.

        None of the revelations would harm Absolute, Wells Fargo or BofA but they do impact – embarrass – Democrats that pretend to be different than GOP.

        Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

        • rblack says:

          Was the initial announcement “official”?

          You make some good points, and a convincing argument, but who would be surprised and/or blame Feinstein, Pelosi, Obama etc if the radical degenerate gays in San Francisco make Manning one of many GMs of the Pride parade?

          Most likely only Fox and Porno Pete would even report on it, and the public would just /shrug.

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          • uppityfag says:

            Who cares about Fox or Porno Pete?

            Maybe someone more up and coming in town wants to make an impression…show the more prominent leaders that they have what it takes.

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          • rblack says:

            “Who cares about Fox or Porno Pete?”

            That was my point.

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        • gstehle says:

          Since Feinstein decided to make herself point person in the bipartisan jihad on Glenn Greenwald, I vote for her.

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    • gstehle says:

      Connect the dots, and it becomes pretty obvious it is Diane Feinstein who put the hex on Manning. It is her and Obama, after all, in unison with the most fanatically right-wing Republican politicans on the planet (e.g., Lindsey Graham, Saxby Chambliss, John Bolton, and Mike Rogers), who are front and center in the jihad on visible government and democracy.

      After Greenwald reported on the massive and unprecedented snooping into Americans’ telephone conversations and internet communications this past week, it was Feinstein threatening to make the same kind of example of Greenwald and his whistleblower source that Obama is making of Manning and Assange.

      But Greenwald has remained defiant, and has in fact thrown down the gauntlet. Here’s what he had to say to Feinstein, Obama, and their fanatical right-wing Republican cohort:

      “And so whatever the justice department wants to do they can beat their chest all they want, and people like Diane Feinstein and Saxby Chambliss can have press conferences threatening people for bringing light to what it is they are doing, but the only people who are going to be investigated are them, and it’s well past time these threats start to be treated with the contempt that they deserve, and that’s certainly how I intend to treat them moving forward, with more investigations and disclosures.”

      Folks like Obama, Feinstein, Chambliss, Bolton, Rogers, and Graham, as Greenwald goes on to note, believe they can invoke the word “terrorism” or “security threat” and that gives them license to do *anything*. Greenwald intends to show them otherwise, that the ability to brandish some over-hyped security threat conveys neither immunity nor impunity from moral principles.

      Bradley Manning and Glenn Greenwald: Profiles in Courage against creeping fascism. And they both just happen to be gay.

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      • Patrick says:

        In his interview with the Guardian, Eric Snowden, the NSA whistleblower drew an important distinction between himself and Manning

        “I carefully evaluated every document I disclosed to make sure that each was in the public interest.There are all sorts of documents that would have made a big impact that I didn’t turn over because harming people isn’t my goal. Transparency is.”

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        • gstehle says:

          Well at least we agree on one thing, and that is that Snowden speaks with some moral authority.

          That’s so much better than Feinstein, who along with her right-wing neocon cohort dwell in a moral morass.

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  2. Harvey Milk was asked if he’d let Joe Brigs or Anita Bryant march in The Freedom Parade. His reply was that no one was to be excluded. Kudos to Pride for “We are carrying on {Harvey} Milk’s legacy.” Well if you are then do it and quit saying you do and then don’t.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  3. Patrick says:

    You are all forgetting that there was opposition to the appointment of Bradley Manning as grand marshal from within our own community–the American Military Partner Association “the premier resorce and support organization for LGBT families” who early on issued a statement opposing Manning’s appointment as grand marshal. No need to look for boogey men in Wells Fargo or Senator Feinstein.

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  1. June 9, 2013

    [...] Pride declines to reinstate Manning as grand marshal (UPDATED) [SFBG] SF Pride will not recgonize Manning [BAR] Bradley Manning won’t get Pride honors [Chron] SF Pride Final Decision-Manning Out as Marshal, Advocates Not Surprised [Castro Biscuit] [...]

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  2. January 29, 2014

    […] followed closely the fiasco that was the SF Pride Board backpedaling on naming Chelsea (Bradley) Manning […]

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