Members of the board overseeing San Francisco Pride have backtracked on their earlier decision to name Bradley Manning, the military intelligence specialist accused of leaking classified information to the website Wikileaks, as a Pride parade Grand Marshal.
"That was an error, and that person has been disciplined. He does not now, nor did he at that time, speak for SF Pride," said SF Pride Board President Lisa Williams
A committee of former San Francisco Pride grand marshals did select the 25-year-old Manning, who is openly gay, for the honor, but the Pride Board decided his nomination would be a mistake, Williams said.
"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."
While the event's grand marshals are typically celebrated as they wave from convertibles during a downtown San Francisco parade, naming Manning as one was destined to be a symbolic gesture. He is in custody at a military prison in Kansas while he awaits court-martial and would have been unable to attend the June 30 parade.
Rainey Reitman, a member of the Bradley Manning Support Network, was excited when Manning was chosen as a Grand Marshal however that excitement proved to be short-lived. "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."
On the other hand, the Pride committee’s change of heart was applauded by others.
"Manning's blatant disregard for the safety of our service members and the security of our nation should not be praised," said Stephen Peters, president of American Military Partners Association. The group, which advocates for same-sex military families, had called on the Pride Committee to rescind the invitation.
"No community of such a strong and resilient people should be represented by the treacherous acts that define Bradley Manning," Peters said.
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