Monday, April 29, 2013

SF Pride President denounces Hero, forces SF Pride to support mass murder of foreign civilians

Encourage SF PRIDE! to reinstate Bradley Manning as a Grand Marshal – SF Pride Offices: 415.864.0831; SF Pride President Lisa Williams: 415.424.9660;; Fax: 415.864.5889

Supporters of Bradley Manning marching in SF Pride 2011.

Contingent of Bradley Manning supporters who marched in San Francisco Pride 2012 (Creative Commons-licensed Photo on Flickr by SaveBradley)

Bradley Manning (Creative Commons-licensed Photo by SaveBradley)

More info:
2013-04-27 "Bradley Manning is off limits at SF Gay Pride parade, but corporate sleaze is embraced A seemingly trivial controversy reveals quite a bit about pervasive political values" by Glenn Greenwald []

2013-05-02 "LGBTQ leaders uphold selection of Bradley Manning as SF Pride grand marshal"
message from "Courage to Resist":
Join us again this year on Sunday, June 30, 2013! Contact Michael Thurman to RSVP:
 Read complete statement here []

Recently, it was announced that PFC Bradley Manning would be a grand marshal of the 2013 San Francisco Pride Celebration. We felt this decision was a bold and uplifting choice, bestowing a great May honor on a young whistleblower being persecuted for following his conscience.
Much to our disappointment, two days later SF Pride board president Lisa Williams issued a separate announcement that the SF Pride board would not be honoring PFC Manning as a grand marshal after all. It appears the SF pride board’s reversal was affected by criticism from a recently formed gay military rights group.
We want the world to know that the SF Pride board’s decision is not reflective of the LGBTQ community as a whole, and that many of us proudly celebrate PFC Manning as a member of our community. Unfortunately, the statements by Williams, and the group which originally advocated against PFC Manning as grand marshal, continue to perpetuate certain factual inaccuracies with regards to the military prosecution against him.
The first inaccuracy would be that PFC Manning did not advocate for gay rights. In fact, while serving in the military, PFC Manning experienced harassment and physical assault because of his perceived sexuality. He responded by marching against Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in the DC pride parade, where he spoke to reporters about his position, in addition to attending a fundraiser with Gavin Newsom and the Stonewall Democrats so he could discuss the issue of homophobia in the military. He told a friend in February of 2009 that his experience living under DADT and experiencing the oppression that entailed helped increase his interest in politics more generally....
Millions of people around the world support Bradley for the personal risk he took in sharing realities of complicated U.S. foreign conflicts with the American people. He is the only gay U.S. serviceperson to be nominated three times for the Nobel Peace Prize. In joining the Army, soldiers take an oath to protect the U.S. Constitution, and we believe that by his actions PFC Manning strengthened our democracy, and fulfilled that oath to a greater degree than most enlisted.
We are proud to embrace PFC Bradley Manning as one of our icons, and intend to march for him in pride contingents across the country this year, as we have in years past. We think Bradley Manning sets a high standard for what a U.S. serviceperson, gayor straight, can be.
[signed] (Organizations listed for identification purposes only)
Lt. Dan Choi – 2009 SF Pride Celebrity Grand Marshal, anti-DADT activist
Joey Cain – 2008 SF Pride Community Grand Marshal, past Board Member and President of SF Pride
Gary Virginia – 2012 SF Pride Community Grand Marshal
John Caldera – Commander, American Legion Bob Basker Post 315ED & SF Veterans For Peace
Susie Bright – Public speaker, educator, and writer
Adele Carpenter – Civilian-Soldier Alliance, SF Chapter
Gabriel Conaway – Equality activist; Steering Committee of SAME
Dossie Easton – Therapist and author
Leslie Feinberg – Transgender author and activist
Stephen Eagle Funk – Artistic Director, Veteran Artists
Glenn Greenwald – Award-winning journalist
Evan Greer – Radical queer riotfolk musician
Liz Henry – Poet and activist
Lori Hurlebaus – Civilian Soldier Alliance, SF Chapter; Co-founder, Courage to Resist
Pat Humphries – Musician, Emma’s Revolution
Sergei Kostin - Art Director, CODEPINK Women for Peace
Sandy Opatow – Musician, Emma’s Revolution
Malachy Kilbride – Coordinating Committee, National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance
Pamela Means – Award-winning OUT musician
Minnie-Bruce Pratt – Award-winning poet, activist and educator
Rainey Reitman – Steering Committee, Bradley Manning Support Network
Oliver Shykles – Queer Friends of Bradley Manning
Peter Tatchell – Founder, Peter Tatchell Foundation
Andy Thayer – Co-founder, Gay Liberation Network
Lori Selke – Author and activist
Becca von Behren - Staff Attorney, Swords to Plowshares Veterans Service Organization
Kit Yan – Queer & trans Asian-American poet

2013-04-27 "SF Pride President Capitulates to Military Groups, Announces Bradley Manning Won’t Be Honored"
by Kevin Gosztola []:
A group of former San Francisco Pride parade grand marshals that SF Pride calls its electoral college announced on April 26 that Pfc. Bradley Manning, the gay private who the United States military is currently prosecuting for disclosing information to WikiLeaks, had been selected as honorary grand marshal for this year’s LGBT Pride Celebration.
The decision greatly offended some of the most militaristic LGBT organizations and activists, who condemned SF Pride. That ultimately led to capitulation by SF Pride president, Lisa Williams, who announced in a letter that Manning would not be honored this year [].
She cast the reversal as a product of dysfunction in the organization: "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."
She briefly noted the process for voting by the electoral college and then stated, “The Board of Directors for SF Pride never voted to support this nomination.”
SF Pride certainly has the right to, through whatever process, decide who to celebrate and who not to celebrate. The full story on what happened in the past twenty-four hours is not known yet so, in the meantime, the focus should be on the stated reasons by LGBT leaders, organizers and others against celebrating him.
Williams did not simply go through the motions and make a statement clarifying he would not be honored like military factions of the LGBT community wanted. She herself put forth a robust condemnation of Manning fueled by her own perceptions: "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. [emphasis added]"
The bio for Williams on SF Pride shows she works for a “political consulting and community advocacy” that serves Democratic Party politics. She “organized satellite offices for the Obama campaign.” She also is the PAC chair of the Bayard Rustin LGBT Coalition.
Scott Long at his blog on sex, rights and the world called “Paper Bird” highlights the irony that a person who chairs a coalition that is supposed to celebrate Rustin is fueling the vilification of Manning []: "Rustin, if you remember, was one of the great figures of 20th-century America: a pacifist, a war resister, an icon of civil disobedience, and the key organizer of the 1963 March on Washington. (Also a gay man). Rustin spent three years in Lewisburg Penitentiary as a conscientious objector during the Second World War. The quote (slightly tweaked) came from a citizen of West Chester, PA, back in 2002, who objected to naming a school after Bayard Rustin. After all, the traitor broke US law, encouraged others to do likewise, and opposed the military and domestic policies of the United States."
The quote: “I am against naming it after Bayard Rustin, as he was a traitor to the good old United States of America. If we all had felt this way, Hitler would have ruled the world.”
Long quotes Rustin, who said the Vietnam War was “a useless, destructive, disgusting war …We must be on the side of revolutionary democracy. And, in addition to all the other arguments for a negotiated peace in Vietnam, there is this one: that it is immoral, impractical, un-political, and unrealistic for this nation to identify itself with a regime which does not have the confidence of its people … I say to the President: America cannot be the policeman of this globe!” []
It is more than irony. It is indicative of what writer Chris Hedges would describe as a “preference for comfort or privilege over truth and confrontation.” []
To apply Hedges’ wisdom to this moment, Williams is part of a liberal class, which derives its ideological stances from “what is most expedient to the careers of its members.” The liberal class “refuses to challenge, in a meaningful way, the decaying structures of democracy or the ascendancy of the corporate state. It glosses over the relentless assault on working men and women and the imperial wars that are bankrupting the nation. It proclaims its adherence to traditional liberal values while defending and promoting systems of power that mock these values.” And, Williams is wed to “pillars of the liberal establishment,” particularly the Democratic Party, which “honor an unwritten quid pro quo with corporations and the power elite, as well as our masters of war, on whom they depend for money, access and positions of influence.”
By capitulating, this is what the SF Pride Board of Directors led by Williams enables [].
—A Navy veteran and gay military activist named Sean Sala, who immediately launched a campaign to boycott the SF Pride parade this year if Manning was honored and wrote in a press statement []: "…As the organizer of the 2011 Active Duty Military March in San Diego Pride and working with the Pentagon to approve the first ever Uniformed Military march in a Pride parade, I am appalled, infuriated and sad. San Francisco has spit in the face of LGBT Military by using a traitor to our country as a poster child. They are not using Manning for anything they truly admire, only to boost their attendance and garnish more currency for their parade…."
He said, “Manning makes Gay military, the Armed Forces and cause of equality look like a sham,” and he also added, “We have spent fifty years trying to garnish equality and Manning cannot and will not represent Gay Military patriots.”
—Stephen Peters, president of the American Military Partners Association, who demanded SF Pride rescind honoring Manning and told AP []: "Manning’s blatant disregard for the safety of our service members and the security of our nation should not be praised…No community of such a strong and resilient people should be represented by the treacherous acts that define Bradley Manning."
—Josh Seefried, co-chairman of OutServe-SLDN, which is a network of active-duty LGBT military personnel: "Bradley Manning’s actions were a disgrace. We just won the repeal of DADT, by the LGBT community ‘honoring’ him it sends a signal to the broader community, including the whole military community, that we think he is some sort of hero."
—Zoe Dunning, a retired Navy commander, lesbian and San Francisco activist, who told The San Francisco Chronicle she considered Manning’s designation an “error”: "He has done nothing for the LGBT Community, which is the criteria for a grand marshal…He just happens to be gay, which is not sufficient."
—Neil Kovrig, a member of the LGBT community: "What I suppose bothers me the most about the whole thing – irrespective of the treason he clearly committed, which is reason enough for him to be a terrifyingly-bad choice – is WHY certain people in the LGBT community hold him up as some sort of gay activist hero. He does not represent me, my friends, my community, or the best and brightest among us. THAT is what Pride is about; Bradley Manning is the least prideful thing we as a community have to “celebrate.
Manning did engage in LGBT activism even as he was enlisted in the military when “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was still policy and could have been used against him if superior officers discovered he was going to protests. For example, from Denver Nicks’ book, Private: Bradley Manning, WikiLeaks and the Biggest Exposure of Officials Secrets in American History.
"…Brad had long been interested in politics, but living under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell inspired a new level of passion in him. In November, he made the hour-and-a-half drive from Fort Drum to the Syracuse city hall for a rally against Proposition 8, the California ballot initiative that overturned a state supreme court decision allowing same-sex marriage. At the protest, Brad was interviewed anonymously by a student reporter. “I was kicked out of my home, and I once lost my job,” he told her. “The world is not moving fast enough for us at home, work or the battlefield.” He went on, “I’ve been living a double life….I can’t make a statement. I can’t be caught in the act. I hope the public support changes. I hope to do that before ETS [Expiration of Term of Service, when an enlisted soldier finishes his commitment in the army].
In his statement read in military court on February 28 [], where Manning confessed to disclosing most of the information he is alleged to have provided to WikiLeaks, he shared how, on January 23, 2010, he was on “mid-tour leave” and visited his boyfriend Tyler Watkins in the Boston area. Watkins “did not seem very excited” about his “return from Iraq.” He tried to talk to him about their relationship, but he “refused to make any plans.”
Manning asked what he would do if he saw Iraq and Afghanistan military incident reports of which he had access and thought the public deserved access. Watkins had no “specific answer.” He tried to follow what Manning was saying but was confused. Manning tried to be more specific yet he was asking “too many questions.”
The conversation was dropped because he could not explain his dilemma. And, after a few days, he felt he’d overstayed his welcome and left to spend the rest of his time on leave in the Washington, DC, area with his aunt.
This is a story that reflects the humanity of Manning, who wondered what the effect of blowing the whistle on information might be on his boyfriend whom he loved.
Finally, there may be no clearer articulation of why members of the LGBT community may want to support Manning than this excerpt from a reactionary piece written by James Kirchick, a fellow with the right-wing defense think tank, Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, and contributing editor for The New Republic. His article was republished by in May 2012 []: "For centuries, gay people have served with distinction and honor in the armed forces, and it is the service of these countless veterans whom today’s gays can thank for the freedom to serve openly. Bradley Manning’s actions are fodder to those who have long argued that homosexuality naturally leads to treason; some on the far right have argued that his actions were intended as “revenge” over the military’s then-enforced anti-gay policy. It is unconscionable that gay activists, of all people, would play into these slanders."
It would seem not honoring him plays into “these slanders.” One would think that people arguing “homosexuality naturally leads to treason” are only enabled by casting Manning as a villain. It would seem to reinforce what people like Ann Coulter on the far-right have said, which is Manning committed this act to lash out against the military for anti-gay policies. However, it is clear from Manning’s lucid and profound statement in court that he was deliberate and reasoned in his decisions about what specific information to disclose to WikiLeaks for release to the world.
Manning is classic whistleblower like Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg is a classic whistleblower, one revered and considered honorable today. It is very possible that parts of the military chain of command, in the aftermath of Manning’s acts, harbor this preconception that they should keep an eye on homosexual soldiers because they may present more of an “insider threat” to the military. It would be unfair to all in the military if people were considered more likely to expose secrets because they were gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.

2013-04-29 update: Commander John Caldera  of the Bob Basker Post 315 of the American Legion just put out this press release authorized yesterday in an emergency meeting of the Post officers. The Bradley Manning Support Group and IVAW have called for a demonstration today at 5 pm in front of the Pride Parade office, 1841 Market (in the vicinity of Octavia/Dolores). We should make a good showing to support Bradley and force his reinstatement.
Contact at Commander John Caldera []

"Breaking News: San Francisco Veterans Call For Resignation of SF Pride President"
At an emergency meeting (April 28, 2013) called by Commander John Caldera to address the controversy surrounding the decision of San Francisco Pride’s President Lisa L. Williams to withdraw and reject the SF Pride Electoral College’s selection of Army Private First Class Bradley Manning as their choice as a 2013 Parade Grand Marshal, the members of the Bob Basker Post 315 of the American Legion have voted to call for the resignation of Ms. Williams as SF Pride Board of Directors.
For the past five years, Post 315 has served as a Community Partner of SF Pride. After a lengthy discussion, the Post Officers and Members unanimously voted to call for the resignation of Ms. Williams for conduct which has brought shame and disgrace to membership of SF Pride as well as the LGBT community of the City of San Francisco.
In a statement written by Ms. Williams on April 26, 2013, she claims that Bradley Manning’s nomination, “was a mistake and should never have been allowed to happen.” By taking this action, Ms. Williams has negated and belittled all the voices of our community leaders and local celebrities who have taken this action.
Furthermore Ms. Williams goes on to state: “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.”
And yet a quick search of the SF Pride’s website shows a corporate list of organizations, banks and businesses that have indeed placed countless Veterans and non-Veterans “in harms way.”
Wells Fargo and Bank of America, two of America’s largest loan mortgagers, each has foreclosed on over 200 military members whose homes were wrongfully taken during 2009 and 2010. These foreclosures violate the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, a federal law requiring banks to obtain court orders before foreclosing on active-duty servicemembers. Bank of America, now being sued for $1 billion by the US government for engaging in a systematic mortgage fraud which the US Attorney called "spectacularly brazen in scope." In March 2013, the same SF Pride sponsor received a record fine for ignoring a court order for trying to collect mortgage payments from bankrupt homeowners to which it was not entitled.
AT&T was found by the FCC last year to have overcharged customers by secretly switching them to plans they didn't want, and is currently being sued by the US government for billing the government improperly for services designed for the deaf and hard-of-hearing who place calls by typing messages over the web.
Bradley Manning might not represent the ideal as a Grand Marshal to everybody but he does represent as a symbol for continuing struggle for human rights, doing the right thing and telling the truth. The San Francisco queer community has the right to be heard and honor whom they chose. SF Pride needs to be more, “people first and corporations seconds” and not the other way around.
Bradley Manning needs to be reinstated as a San Francisco Honorary Grand Marshal and Ms. Williams needs to step down as SF Pride President.

Iraq Veterans Against the War and Civilian Soldier Alliance respond to SF Pride's Rebuff of Bradley Manning: Grand Marshal not Court Martial!
San Francisco Chapters of "Iraq Veterans Against the War" and "Civilian-Soldier Alliance"
Adele Carpenter +503-860-5168,
Josh Shepherd, +415-819-1045,
Becca vonBehren,+518-222-3834,
Michael Thurman, +916-202-6060,

The beginnings of San Francisco’s gay liberation movement were deeply tied up with mass mobilizations against the Vietnam war, alongside thousands of GI resisters, like B. Manning. Iraq Veterans Against the War San Francisco is disappointed that the board of SF Pride has betrayed the strong anti-war roots of San Francisco’s LGBT community by deciding to unseat B. Manning as 2013 grand marshall, and to further publicly malign Manning.
SF Pride has broken with its own tradition of appointing controversial community leaders and freedom fighters as grand marshalls, and has instead capitulated to the interests of its funders and lowest common denominator politics by making the profoundly undemocratic decision to reverse Manning’s election. SF Pride’s recent statement also makes several false assertions about the nature and effects of Manning’s actions.
As veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars (both queers and allies), we strongly object to the hyberbolic assertion made by Lisa Williams, president of SF Pride’s Board of Directors, that Manning’s election as grand marshall is an “insult to every one, gay and straight, who has ever served in the military of this country,” or that Manning committed “actions which placed in harms way the lives of our men and women in uniform.”
Indeed, US servicemembers are placed in harm’s way--not by whistleblowers and human rights defenders--but by the policies carried out by the Bush and Obama administrations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and by the broken veteran care system we return to. As veterans, we have witnessed the effects of U.S. occupations on civilian populations in Iraq and Afghanistan. As violence racks communities throughout Iraq this month, we note with sadness that today’s Iraq is less safe for gay men--as well as women of all sexual orientations--than it was a decade ago when the U.S. invaded.
Like us, Manning saw the effects of years of U.S. occupation in Iraq. PFC Manning has been homophobically maligned by the mainstream press as having impulsively leaked documents in an attempt to “get back at” the Army following relentless homophobic harassment. In fact, Manning’s statements reveal an extremely sophisticated analysis of military racism and the U.S. military’s role in undermining democracy in Iraq and around the globe. If Manning is guilty of releasing wires to Wikileaks, then Manning is guilty of actions that have played a role in catalyzing some of the largest democratic uprisings in recent history. Meanwhile, these “crimes” pale in comparison to the laundry list of unethical and illegal activities perpetrated by a number of SF Pride’s funders, including Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and AT&T.
B. Manning is currently languishing in a military prison in conditions that the UN and Amnesty International have described as torturous. After nearly three years, Manning is facing a trial without basic tenets of due process. B. Manning has risked a great deal on account of the belief that information mattered--that we, as a public, would do something if we knew the truth about actions being taken by the U.S. government. Now, it is up to us to prove Manning right.
Publicly maligning Manning one month before what could be the biggest court martial proceeding our country has ever seen has broad negative implications for the future of truth-telling from within the military ranks, and accordingly for the US population to be informed on the actions of our nation.
We would like to respectfully call on members of the wider LGBT community to demand Bradley Manning’s reinstatement as a 2013 SF Pride Grand Marshall [], to take this time to renew commitments to anti-war politics and solidarity with political prisoners, and to visibly support B. Manning throughout the ensuing court martial, as well as the upcoming Pride season.

2013-04-29 "Former San Francisco Pride Grand Marshal Who Nominated Bradley Manning Details Board’s Capitulation"
by Kevin Gosztola []:
At the end of last week, San Francisco Pride’s President Lisa Williams and its Board of Directors went against the vote of the “electoral college” that had decided to honor Pfc. Bradley Manning, the gay soldier who the military is prosecuting for disclosing information to WikiLeaks.
Williams announced late Friday that a “mistake” had been made and his nomination “should never have been allowed to happen.” But, according to a former Grand Marshal, who nominated Manning, earlier in the week the Board had been willing to honor him. It was not until LGBT military groups from outside of San Francisco began to bombard San Francisco Pride’s office with phone calls and emails that the Board decided Pride would not honor Manning.
“I nominated Bradley Manning to be a Grand Marshal,” Joey Cain told Firedoglake. Three others in addition to Manning were nominated. An email went out to former Grand Marshals and “we voted.”
There are “several methods” that are used to elect Grand Marshals for the parade,” Cain described. One is a “community vote.” Another involves the formation of an “electoral college” of former Grand Marshals, who nominate and elect one individual to be a Grand Marshal. The Board also appoints a certain number of Grand Marshals.
Michael Thurman of Courage to Resist, which organizes the Bradley Manning Support Network, called him soon after the vote on Tuesday, April 23. He told Cain that Joshua Smith of San Francisco Pride had contacted him and informed him Manning had been elected by the college of former Grand Marshals.
A couple hours later, Smith called back to say there was a mistake. The Board would be asking for an “audit of the votes” of the “college” of Grand Marshals. According to Thurman, Smith told him the results were looking like it could turn out different and Manning would not be Grand Marshal.
Cain thought this “sounded very suspicious.” He contacted Smith, who is a “personal friend,” and previously “served on the Board of Directors with him.” He also called Williams.
Smith called him back and, according to Cain, would not detail what had happened but took responsibility.
“This looks really bad for Pride,” Cain said to Smith. “You need to do something to rectify this.”
Cain, who is on Pride’s community advisory board, spoke with a person who acknowledged there was a problem. You cannot call a person, make them Grand Marshal and then call them back and say, due to a mistake, you are no longer going to be a Grand Marshal. Both agreed the Pride Board needed to reinstate Manning as a Grand Marshal.
Between 9:30 and 10:00 am on Tuesday night, Williams called Cain. He says that he had a conversation with her, where she said, “We’re going to do the right thing. We’re going to make Bradley Manning a Grand Marshal.”
Cain was under the impression the “electoral college” had not elected Manning but the Board was going to just go ahead and make Manning a Grand Marshal because they informed the Support Network he would be honored.
On April 24, Cain went to a reception for Pride executive director, Earl Plante, and told Smith and Williams he was thankful they were doing the right thing regarding Bradley Manning, which they acknowledged. The next day he was surprised to read in BAR magazine, a local LGBT newspaper, that “Pride’s electoral college, which is made up of former grand marshals, has selected Army Private First Class Bradley Manning as its choice for grand marshal”.
According to Cain, “Both Michael and I were told by Pride that he had not been elected due to a mistake, and in fact I had been told Betty Sullivan had won the election. To add to the strangeness, Betty had been selected not by the college of former grand marshals, but by the Board as a grand marshal.”
The announcement set off a firestorm that was generated by activists from gay service member organizations outside of San Francisco. Pride capitulated to this and wrote a press release that, as Cain put it, read “like it was written by the US military prosecutor’s office.” It did not simply say Pride made a mistake but trashed Manning in a “hateful way.”
The press release claimed, “A staff person at SF Pride, acting under his own initiative, prematurely contacted Bradley Manning based on internal conversations within the SF Pride organization.” Cain said this is a lie. Smith is the “rogue staff person” and there is no way he is solely responsible. Pride would not have “sent out this list of who the Grand Marshals were,” on Wednesday, “without that having been approved by the Board.”
Since backlash against the rejection of Manning began to grow, Williams, Smith and other Board members have refused to make public comments or respond to calls from Cain.
Cain nominated Manning because he had been following the case and personally feels “he did a heroic thing.”
“It touched my heart that he was a little gay boy, who went into the military, as many gay boys do and many straight boys,” and, Cain added, “I think he realized he made one of the biggest mistakes in his life.”
“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was still going on. Manning demonstrated against the policy that prohibited gay and lesbian service members from being open about their sexual orientation while in the military. Cain also believes Manning was subjected to “torturous conditions” at Quantico because he was gay.
Asked if there has ever been a situation like this, where San Francisco Pride backed down in the face of controversy, Cain recalled when Pride had nominated Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein for the “honor” of the "Pink Brick" in 2005.
The "Pink Brick" is given to individuals or organizations that do something that really hurt the LGBT community. Feinstein said that same-sex weddings in San Francisco energized a “very conservative vote. So I think that whole issue has been too much, too fast, too soon. And people aren’t ready for it.”
The same year, American philanthropist, former United States Ambassador to Luxembourg, LGBT activist and friend of Feinstein, James Hormel, was nominated to be a Grand Marshal. He was upset and Cain says he talked to Hormel, since he was considering withdrawing. He did not and Cain thinks that is because he realized that diversity of opinion should be respected.
From what Cain could tell, Sean Sala, a gay veteran and activist, was a key player involved in generating outrage that led to the Board’s capitulation.
Sala participated in a chat on Salon with Lt. Dan Choi, a gay veteran and activist who supports Manning, on Monday. He had previously said that he believes Manning is a “traitor” and that he has done nothing for the LGBT community. And, during the chat, he shared that he had been working to get the Pentagon to certify uniforms so that gay and lesbian service members could wear them in Pride parades.
"You would not believe the protocol I had to follow. How much right and left agendas tried to ‘spoil’ the March with their own personal agendas," Sala said. "I had to keep the message pure, honor the Military. Follow protocol. For the respect of our country and the integrity and protection of military individuals participating."
He stated unequivocally that part of his opposition to Manning’s nomination had been driven by the fact that he did not want the Pentagon to not allow LGBT service members to wear uniforms in the Pride parade.
To the contention that Manning has not done anything for the LGBT community, Cain reacted:
"I got news: the gay community is part of the larger human community. So, when someone does something that exposes the US military’s crimes, that may embarrass the US, but this is stuff Americans should know and the world should know. To me that benefits gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, and I don’t buy this argument that he’s done nothing for the gay community because we have this narrow definition of what that means. It’s ridiculous."
He added, “The idea that a gay person who does a heroic act that benefits humanity should not be a Grand Marshal for Pride is reprehensible.”
To those who would say that he just “happens to be gay, which is not sufficient,” as one notable LGBT veteran, Zoe Dunning, said, he agreed this is essentially the LGBT community trying to strip Manning of his gay identity.
“People are grasping at straws to try and come up with the justification for him to not be Grand Marshal.” More importantly, “Whether or not you believe he is a traitor or hero, San Francisco Pride has always been about embracing the diversity of genders, colors and opinions that are in the LGBT community. We have always done that.”
Cain said he had served on the Board for ten years and part of the strength and vision of San Francisco Pride has been not to back down or pander to one element of the community over another. But, this year, the Board embarrassed themselves. They pandered to a part of the LGBT community—military service members—and violated a system for selecting Grand Marshals that has been used for twelve years and, until now, had not been considered problematic or flawed.
In response, Cain and others in the LGBT community organized a protest against San Francisco Pride for Monday evening, April 29, outside Pride’s office. They put out a call to have him reinstated as a Grand Marshal and encouraged people to call or email the office. And, Cain and three other past presidents of Pride wrote a letter that stated the Board’s “decision dishonors the history and spirit of LGBT inclusion and diversity that this event must represent.”

2013-04-30 "Backlash, Protests Follow 'Hateful' U-Turn of Bradley Manning Gay Pride Honor; 'They say court martial!—We say Grand Marshal!' exclaim supporters of anti-war whisteblower"
by Jon Queally from "Common Dreams" []:
Governing officials of the San Francisco Gay Pride Parade are facing a severe backlash after u-turning on their decision to make embattled military whistleblower Bradley Manning an honorary Grand Marshal at the city's well-attended and much celebrated LGBT event in June.
On Monday night, protesters who accused SF Pride, which organizes the parade, of "turning its back on activism and dissent" gathered outside the group's headquarters in San Francisco to protest the decision. Among the speakers at the protest was Daniel Ellsberg, who famously released the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times during the Vietnam War.
In the crowd, protesters shouted: "They say court martial!—We say Grand Marshal!"
The controversy started last week when Manning was nominated by a group of former Grand Marshals, who form a sort of 'electoral college' for new marshals. But after initially accepting the nomination, the Board of Directors unceremoniously—and critics say "hatefully"—rescinded the honor on Friday following criticism from constituents hostile to Manning's anti-war leanings.
“Our message to SF Pride is that they should make Manning a grand marshal of this year’s Pride march and celebration because of his brave act of whistleblowing against the military industrial complex,” said Michael Petrelis, one of the organizers of Monday night's protest. “We are fed up with marriage and military concerns sucking the oxygen out of what used to be a queer movement and Pride march and celebration about social justice for queers.”
Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald weighed in on the issue over the weekend, calling the press release put out by SF Pride's board president Lisa L. Williams announcing the rescinded honor "a cowardly, imperious statement" that had to "be read to be believed."
And Joe Eskenazi, writing at the Advocate, says the Manning controversy "epitomizes Pride's awkward paradox" in recent years []. SF Pride's decision, he writes, reeked of a half-assed attempt to be controversial countered too late by an obsequious kowtow to the festival's corporate backers," he writes. "But instead of canceling each other out, these moves formed an interference wave and backfired even bigger."
Following an in-depth interview with Joey Cain, a former Grand Marshall of the parade who actually nominated Manning in the first place, FireDogLake's Kevin Gosztola describes the back and forth between Board members of the parade and those supporting Manning's nomination and appointment. Gostzola reports []: [begin excerpt]
The announcement set off a firestorm that was generated by activists from gay service member organizations outside of San Francisco. SF Pride capitulated to this and wrote a press release that, as Cain put it, read “like it was written by the US military prosecutor’s office.” It did not simply say Pride made a mistake but trashed Manning in a “hateful way.”
The press release claimed, “A staff person at SF Pride, acting under his own initiative, prematurely contacted Bradley Manning based on internal conversations within the SF Pride organization.” Cain said this is a lie. Smith is the “rogue staff person” and there is no way he is solely responsible. Pride would not have “sent out this list of who the Grand Marshals were,” on Wednesday, “without that having been approved by the Board.”
Since backlash against the rejection of Manning began to grow, Williams, Smith and other Board members have refused to make public comments or respond to calls from Cain.
Cain nominated Manning because he had been following the case and personally feels “he did a heroic thing.” [end excerpt]
Both Greenwald and Eskenazi point to the parade's growing ties to corporate and mainstream interests that make the board's decision more understandable, but also more deplorable.
Though it once had "humble roots" when it was "Gay Freedom Day," writes Eskenazi, the parade is "now a city institution—complete with corporate sponsors and built-in expectations of doling out hefty sums of money to other city nonprofits while drawing millions of free-spending visitors."
And as Greenwald concludes in his article:  [begin excerpt]
Even the SF Gay Pride Parade is now owned by and beholden to the nation's largest corporations, subject to their dictates. Those who run the event are functionaries of, loyalists to, the nation's most powerful political officials. That's how this parade was so seamlessly transformed from orthodoxy-challenging, individualistic and creative cultural icon into yet another pile of obedient apparatchiks that spout banal slogans doled out by the state while viciously scorning those who challenge them. Yes, there will undoubtedly still be exotically-dressed drag queens, lesbian motorcycle clubs, and groups proudly defined by their unusual sexual proclivities participating in the parade, but they'll be marching under a Bank of America banner and behind flag-waving fans of the National Security State, the US President, and the political party that dominates American politics and its political and military institutions. Yet another edgy, interesting, creative, independent event has been degraded and neutered into a meek and subservient ritual that must pay homage to the nation's most powerful entities and at all costs avoid offending them in any way. [end excerpt]
'Pentagon Papers' whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg was among those protesting at the SF Pride headquarters on Monday. (Photo: Michael Petrelis)

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