US: San Francisco Pride backtracks on announcement of Bradley Manning as grand marshal

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Reports that San Francisco Pride would honour Wikileaks suspect Bradley Manning as an honorary grand marshal of their parade have been promptly denied by organisers.

News spread quickly on Friday that Bradley Manning, the openly gay soldier accused of leaking large numbers of secret documents to Wikileaks, had been named as honorary grand marshal for San Francisco Pride 2013.

Almost immediately, organisers of the march denied the claims, stating that one employee of the San Francisco Pride Board had acted prematurely to name Manning as 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 the Board’s President, Lisa Williams.

The grand marshal title is an honour given to around 12 LGBT individuals each year who are felt to have had a significant positive impact on the world. Marshals would normally be driven in convertible cars as part of the parade, but in Manning’s case it would be a symbolic role, as he in currently in custody.

It emerged that a committee of former Pride marshals had selected Manning, but the Pride board had decided not to extend the honour to him as he is a controversial figure.

Stephen Peters, president of American Military Partners Association, called on the Pride board to retract the invitation when news of it broke: “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.”

Rainey Reitman of the Bradley Manning Support Network disagreed: “I and many other LGBT Manning supporters are deeply disappointed by this sudden change in position on the part of the [Pride] committee.

“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.”

In February Manning pleaded guilty to 10 of the 22 charges against him but denied the most serious charge against him – aiding the enemy.

He was nominated for the Nobel Peace Price in March for having “fueled democratic uprisings around the world”.