On April 26th, champions of peace and justice worldwide rejoiced at the announcement that San Francisco Pride had selected whistleblower and LGBT hero Private First Class Manning as Grand Marshal for the 2013 Pride Parade. Later that evening, the president of the board of directors published this inflammatory statement on the SF Pride Facebook page, retracting the nomination and defaming 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"
By the following morning, hundreds of comments were made on the post, and well over 90% were in support of Manning. There were 20 instances of the word 'disgusting', 26 for 'coward' and 73 for 'shame'.
Manning's only 'crime' was to pull the knowledge of the U.S. government's criminal actions out of the closet. For that, Manning is a hero for the cause of liberation from oppression, for queer people and for all people. That is the legacy of Pride. Tell the Board of Directors of SF Pride to reinstate Manning now!
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