Because pride in San Francisco means neither being bold nor taking a risk, the San Francisco Gay Pride committee has backtracked on their appointment of Bradley Manning as the Gay Pride Marshal of the 2013 Pride Parade. Board president Lisa L. Williams sent out a bizarre press release Friday night attempting to clarify the controversy.
SF Pride Statement about Bradley Manning
26 April 2013: 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. Bradley Manning will have his day in court, but will not serve as an official participant in the SF Pride Parade.
-- Lisa L. Williams, SF Pride Board President
With all due respect to Gay Pride as an institution, this reeks of some seriously straight-up bullshit. Understandable. But still. Too much money on the line for them to act with a conscience.
On S.F. Pride's official Facebook page, locals reacted with outrage. David Waggoner writes, "Roy Cohn and J. Edgar Hoover would be proud!" While Mark Taylor adds, "Lisa Williams you are a sad person and I'm ashamed of Pride for the above statement. Bradley Manning is a HERO." And Brian Mccaig notes that he won't bother attending Pride this year, saying, "Yes, and we broke the law way back in the Stonewall era. Pride is running scared of their big sponsors and government agencies, and I...and my friends won't be supporting Pride from now on."
Presumably, the S.F. Pride committee will fill Mr. Manning's empty slot with either a heterosexual celebrity, a Kaiser executive, or a local politician seeking higher officer. Way to go, San Francisco Pride. Shitstorm TK.