After 24 hours of intense debate both critical and supportive SF Pride Board President Lisa Williams has issued a statement saying that PFC Bradley Manning who is charged with leaking of releasing more than 750,000 documents of various levels of governmental classification through WikiLeaks WILL NOT BE an honorary SF Pride Grand Marshal after all.
Williams who released the statement late Friday blamed the “snafu” on an employee of SF Pride saying that had prematurely notified imprisoned intelligence specialist Bradley Manning this week that he had been selected for the distinction but noted that the committee of former San Francisco Pride grand marshals who make the decision did indeed select the 25-year-old Manning, who is openly gay, for the honor, but the Pride Board decided his nomination would be a mistake.
“In point of fact, less than 15 people actually cast votes for Bradley Manning,” Williams said. “However, as an organization with a responsibility to serve the broader community, SF Pride repudiates this vote. The staffer has been disciplined and does not now, nor did he at that time, speak for SF Pride,”
Rainey Reitman, a member of the Bradley Manning Support Network who had cheered the short-lived recognition.
“I and many other LGBT Manning supporters are deeply disappointed by this sudden change in position on the part of the committee,” Reitman said. “Bradley is a gay American hero who sacrificed a great deal so we could learn the truth about our government, and he was fairly elected to serve as grand marshal in the parade
You can read San Francisco Pride President Lisa Willams full statement below.
“Bradley Manning will not be a grand marshal in this year’s San Francisco Pride celebration. 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.
Bradley Manning is facing the military justice system of this country. We all await the decision of that system. However, until that time, even the hint of support for actions which placed in harms 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.
There are many, gay and straight, military and non-military, who believe Bradley Manning to be innocent. There are many who feel differently. Under the US Constitution, they have a first amendment right to show up, participate and voice their opinions at Pride this year. Specifically, what these events have revealed is a system whereby a less-than-handful of people may decide who represents the LGBT community’s highest aspirations as grand marshals for SF Pride. This is a systemic failure that now has become apparent and will be rectified. In point of fact, less than 15 people actually cast votes for Bradley Manning. These 15 people are part of what is called the SF Pride Electoral College, comprised of former SF Pride Grand Marshals. However, as an organization with a responsibility to serve the broader community, SF Pride repudiates this vote. The Board of Directors for SF Pride never voted to support this nomination.” – Lisa Williams