Guest opinion: LGBT supporters of Bradley Manning

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Editor's note: At least 24 LGBT community leaders and activists have signed on to the following statement in support of Bradley Manning as a Pride grand marshal.

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 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.

LGBTQ activists fought hard for years to win the right to live free from the fear that we could be targeted with violence deemed acceptable to society at large, simply for being who we are.  We members of the LGBTQ community would like to stand in solidarity with others around the world who still must live in fear of violence and oppression, simply for being born into a particular group.

Contrary to SF Pride Board president Lisa Williams’s claim, no evidence has been presented that PFC Manning's actions endangered fellow soldiers or civilians. In fact, the military prosecution has successfully argued in court that it isn’t required to provide such evidence, and former State Department spokesperson P.J. Crowley continues to insist that the “Aiding the enemy” charge is unwarranted. 

In a February 28, 2013, court statement, PFC Manning detailed the due diligence he performed prior to releasing materials to ensure this lack of harm, in addition to explaining,

"I believed the detailed analysis of the [Iraq and Afghanistan war log] data over a long period of time by different sectors of society might cause society to reevaluate the need or even the desire to even to engage in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations that ignore the complex dynamics of the people living in the affected environment every day."

The truth is that President Bush and VP Cheney's aggressive wars in the Middle East endangered far more LGBTQ service members and civilians than any Army whistle-blower.  Unlike PFC Manning, however, they have never served prison time, and likely never will.

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, gay or straight, can be.

Lt. Dan Choi, 2009 SF Pride Celebrity Grand Marshal, anti-DADT activist
Joey Cain, 2008 SF Pride Community Grand Marshal, former Board Member and President of SF Pride
Gary Virginia, 2012 SF Pride Community Grand Marshal
John Caldera, Commander, Bob Basker Post 315ED, American Legion, SF Veterans For Peace
Peter Tatchell, Peter Tatchell Foundation
Glenn Greenwald, award-winning journalist
Leslie Feinberg, transgender author and activist
Minnie Bruce Pratt, award-winning poet, activist and educator
Dossie Easton, Therapist and Author
Susie Bright, public speaker, educator, writer
Andy Thayer, co-founder, Gay Liberation Network
Becca von Behren, Staff Attorney, Swords to Plowshares Veterans Service Organization
Stephen Eagle Funk, Artistic Director, Veteran Artists
Liz Henry, poet and activist
Lori Selke, author and activist
Rainey Reitman, Steering Committee, Bradley Manning Support Network
Sergei Kostin, Codepink Art Director
Kit Yan, Queer & Trans Asian American Poet
Lori Hurlebaus, Civilian-Soldier Alliance, SF Chapter; Co-founder, Courage to Resist
Evan Greer, radical queer riotfolk musician
Pat Humphries, Emma's Revolution
Sandy Opatow, Emma's Revolution
Pamela Means, award-winning OUT musician
Malachy Kilbride, Coordinating Committee, National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance
Oliver Shykles, Queer Friends of Bradley Manning
Gabriel Conaway, equality activist, Steering Committee of SAME
Adele Carpenter, Civilian-Soldier Alliance, SF Chapter

Comments

Fuck Brad Manning.

Posted by A Pissed Off Gay Veteran on May. 02, 2013 @ 10:05 am

B Manning is a traitor. Thank you POGV

Posted by Richmondman on May. 02, 2013 @ 12:41 pm

coward

Posted by Guest on May. 02, 2013 @ 2:29 pm

If you're pissed because you think he is a traitor, try reading the shit he released. He exposed the REAL traitors and gives this country a SHOT of redemption because sometimes, doing the right thing takes knowing the TRUTH. Before you chastise someone you don't know for actions you don't agree with... Try to see WHY he might have risked everything to do it in the first place. Bradley Manning loves this country and if you take a little of that energy and use it to read his opening statements in court (where he plead GUILTY because he did it for a REASON) instead of what was fed to the media.. you might be able to disagree without sounding like an ignorant asshole. Hell, you might even agree with what he did.

Posted by ubuntu on May. 03, 2013 @ 7:20 pm

for certain words, your position on truth is based on your opinion as fact.

Posted by Matlock on May. 03, 2013 @ 8:54 pm

"What are you on about?"

"Start making sense."

(Matlock classics; this is one for the annals.)

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 03, 2013 @ 9:08 pm

Manning is a Hero and I commend all who have signed on to this statement for standing up for Manning.
-hl

P.S. to a pissed off gay veteran f you too!

Posted by Guest Heidi on May. 02, 2013 @ 10:54 am

just one of the resident reactionary trolls here who will say *anything* which they think might discourage and demoralize Bay Guardian readers. Not gay, not veteran, just pissed off.

Seems incorrect to suggest that Bradley Manning endangered any servicemen through his actions; more properly they were endangered by a reckless and cavalier foreign policy whose nature was laid bare by Manning, if anything.

Where was "pissed off gay veteran" when Dick Cheney blew the cover of Valerie Plame? Cheney did that in an effort to keep his illegitamate war plans on track.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 02, 2013 @ 11:50 am

Fuck you too. I am gay. I am pissed off. And I am a veteran with the DD214 to prove it (not that you would know what that is).

Posted by A Pissed Off Gay Veteran on May. 03, 2013 @ 9:32 am

wow congratulations, you can Google and hurl insults. That still doesn't make you anything other than a troll. If you have something worthwhile to say how about doing it without spewing venom and actually backing up your statements using these things we call "facts".

Posted by Guest on May. 03, 2013 @ 10:36 am

I agree and I've noticed that the right-wing often claim to be gay (they think it gives them more credibility or something on this type of issue) while promoting their hateful agenda.

Posted by Guest on May. 03, 2013 @ 6:30 pm

the other less-than-clever reactionary trolls here. (Maybe SFBG doesn't get the "A" team so their schtick is a bit easier to figure out?)

Matlock is always making noises like he wants to be a liberal but can't because of X, Y, and Z. It's just rhetoric. Same thing here -- and note that the supposedly gay veteran decided to make a big stink because of my questioning his claims in that regard, but did not attempt to justify his point about Manning having put anybody in danger which I disputed.

Righties don't have the facts on their side, so they resort to cheesy rhetoric, lies, bullying, insults, misdirection, and -- failing all that -- wanton miscontrual.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 03, 2013 @ 9:17 pm

the other less-than-clever reactionary trolls here. (Maybe SFBG doesn't get the "A" team so their schtick is a bit easier to figure out?)

Matlock is always making noises like he wants to be a liberal but can't because of X, Y, and Z. It's just rhetoric. Same thing here -- and note that the supposedly gay veteran decided to make a big stink because of my questioning his claims in that regard, but did not attempt to justify his point about Manning having put anybody in danger which I disputed.

Righties don't have the facts on their side, so they resort to cheesy rhetoric, lies, bullying, insults, misdirection, and -- failing all that -- wanton miscontrual.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 03, 2013 @ 9:17 pm

Free Bradley Manning! Blowing the whistle on war crimes is not a crime!

Posted by Luke on May. 02, 2013 @ 12:18 pm

He did not "blow the whistle on war crimes" out of any kind of moral outrage.

His decision making process was based on disturbed thinking and his not getting what he wanted from the US Army.

He did what he did as a "fuck you" to the military and the government, not because he thought it was a the right thing to do. That is not "whistle blowing" that is the act of a petulant child.

He is not a "gay hero". He's a fuck up who happens to be gay.

Posted by A Pissed Off Gay Veteran on May. 03, 2013 @ 9:37 am

It takes guts to stand up to a crowd and state an opinion that may not be popular, but is right. Thank you for stating the facts as you see them so clearly.

vs2pn

Posted by Guest on May. 25, 2013 @ 8:13 pm

I am a retired superior court judge from New Hampshire and a veteran. Bradley Manning, in my opinion, stands head and shoulders above the persecutors and prosecutors who aim to make a terrifying example of him to stop any further acts of conscience in the face of our government's war crimes and crimes against humanity. Free Bradley Manning!

Posted by Guest Art Brennan on May. 02, 2013 @ 12:49 pm

Working in the early Gay Liberation movement, I learned about anti war activism from brave vets like Bradley Manning. Interesting that the troll pretending to be a pissed off vet was not brave enough to give his name, unlike the active duty soldier who posted his picture in support of Bradley in the link given here.
https://www.facebook.com/wendell.jones.583?ref=tn_tnmn

Posted by GuestWendell Jones on May. 02, 2013 @ 1:02 pm

Working in the early Gay Liberation movement, I learned about anti war activism from brave vets like Bradley Manning. Interesting that the troll pretending to be a pissed off vet was not brave enough to give his name, unlike the active duty soldier who posted his picture in support of Bradley in the link given here.
https://www.facebook.com/wendell.jones.583?ref=tn_tnmn

Posted by GuestWendell Jones on May. 02, 2013 @ 1:03 pm

Manning is a hero and a bonifide icon of the LGBT community. Lisa Williams and her ilk in Gay, Inc. defend Barack Obama for doing what they would condemn George Bush for doing, namely, persecuting Bradley Manning, the whistleblower on govenrment wrong doing! We need to be clear that it is not only Dick Cheney and Bush who are the real criminals, but Obama is now the new War Maker in Chief.

Posted by Bob Schwartz on May. 02, 2013 @ 1:11 pm

Completely agree, and don't get me started on the blatant, glaring hypocrisy of the pathetic Obamabots/Dembots (and that Lisa Williams piece of work is one of them). They are no different than the rabid Bush supporters and even use the same reprehensible tactics, which of course they complained about when the Bushbots used them. They have raised Hypocrisy to an entirely new level.

Posted by Guest on May. 02, 2013 @ 7:38 pm

I am a gay man and have lived continuously in SF since 1977. Manning should not be honored. Of note, in my years l;iving in San Francisco I never never heard of or met any of the people who signed the above letter. They certainly do not speak for me.

Posted by Guest on May. 02, 2013 @ 2:11 pm

You should spend some time googling these people. Some of them are among the most famous and well respected LGBTQ academics, authors, and activists in the world.

Posted by Guest on May. 03, 2013 @ 6:03 pm

and do what they say!

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on May. 03, 2013 @ 6:38 pm
Posted by Matlock on May. 03, 2013 @ 8:56 pm

Yes, even though who they are is clearly indicated beside their name (some people are thick aren't they?), my first thought was: well there's a well-known search engine called google one could use if one honestly wanted to know more about them. One would have thought that most people would have heard of google by now, but then again, trolls are the most stupid form on the internet, especially the attention-seeking septic parasites on this site (Snapples, Matlock, anon, two right-wing Guests, etc.), so just consider the source.

Posted by Guest on May. 03, 2013 @ 9:23 pm

Who are we to oppose him? With an endorsement list like that he's a sure fire bet to be acquitted!

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on May. 02, 2013 @ 2:54 pm

"The truth is that President [sic] Bush and VP [sic] Cheney's aggressive wars in the Middle East endangered far more LGBTQ service members and civilians than any Army whistle-blower. Unlike PFC Manning, however, they have never served prison time, and likely never will."

That paragraph would be better written as follows:

The truth is that George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and the Democratic and Republican congress' aggressive wars in the Middle East endangered far more LGBTQ service members and civilians than any Army whistle-blower. Unlike PFC Manning, however, they have never served prison time, and never will because Obama will continue to protect them since he's one of them.

I find it offensive for people to refer to George W Bush as "president" and using a capital P which denotes respect when no respect is merited. The same goes for that sack Dick Cheney. And I would point out that Obama has expanded their agenda.

I won't be going to Pride [sic] because I see it for what it is (a corporate sham with rainbow flags), rather than what Pride [sic] wants people to continue to believe it is. I support Bradley Manning (and Julian Assange.)

Posted by Guest on May. 02, 2013 @ 7:17 pm

Sorry for my bad english.

I am a dutch woman of 66 years and when I saw the first television journal of Bradley Manning I am so proud off him.

Here in Holland we see him as a Hero. It takes a lot of courage what he did.

Remember what Jesus said: Who is without sin....

I am a fan of Obama and I hope that he has the courage to set him free!!

I wish you all a very happy day

Posted by Guest Yvonne on May. 02, 2013 @ 11:18 pm

Your English is fine. No need to apologize for it. I understood everything you wrote. That's not the problem. Your understanding of who and what Obama is is the problem. Are you not aware that the guy you are a fan of (Obama) has already declared Bradley Manning "guilty" even before he's had a trial? Are you okay with that? And I would have to assume that you were also a fan of Bush and Cheney since your Obama has continued and expanded on nearly all of what they put in place. You are aware of that?

Posted by Guest on May. 03, 2013 @ 4:19 am

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.”

http://militarypartners.org/
Website quotation: American Military Partners Association (AMPA): Connecting, supporting, honoring, and serving the partners and spouses of America's LGBT service members and veterans - our nation's "silent heroes."

Did Stephen Peters, president of AMPA and its self-described U.S. "silent heroes,” obey his military oath?

If so, as fair disclosure, he should explain in verifiable detail when, where, what, how, why and to whom he reported the easily observable corruption, probable war crimes and crimes against humanity by the U.S. military in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, including the mass serial killing of women, children and other noncombatant civilians.

If not, then shame on him for his hypocrisy and for attacking PFC Manning, a true, courageous patriot, American and humanitarian who makes all such oath-breakers look so inadequate by comparison and thereby unavoidably exposes their psychological denial of their underlying motive to castigate, denigrate, vilify, accuse and demonize PFC Manning and hide their own treachery and treason by obeying all orders of their superiors, including illegal, criminal orders according to the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Reportedly this furor over the SF Pride 2013 Grand Marshall was instigated by some military gays who do not live in San Francisco.

Many if not most U.S. military service persons, gay and not gay, may feel insulted by Army PFC Bradley Manning, because he is one of the rare such persons who understood and obeyed his military Oath to the U.S. Constitution. PFC Manning honored his Oath with high intelligence and great moral courage when he observed war crimes and crimes against humanity, and Manning's actions make other military service persons look shameful by comparison.

Does a U.S. patriot go to war as a combat soldier and watch women, children and other non-combatant civilians murdered routinely, after such combat soldiers are trained how to evade and circumvent the Rules of Engagement so as not to technically violate the terms of the Geneva Conventions and other U.S. signatory treaties?

A true patriot is always loyal to his or her country and its constitution, but never loyal to a corrupt, criminal government. Moral cowards and other obsequious sycophants who blindly, roboticly obey all orders for their own comfort and security do not pass the test of true patriotism.

This public relations disaster was created within the SF Pride organization, and it needs to get on the right side of history, instead of pandering to some gay persons who seems to be obsessed with the fetish of wearing a military uniform in a gay parade. Since when is marching in a gay citizens' parade in a military uniform of such overriding importance? What could be more shallow?

Peace.

Posted by Guest on May. 03, 2013 @ 6:44 am

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.”

http://militarypartners.org/
Website quotation: American Military Partners Association (AMPA): Connecting, supporting, honoring, and serving the partners and spouses of America's LGBT service members and veterans - our nation's "silent heroes."

Did Stephen Peters, president of AMPA and its self-described U.S. "silent heroes,” obey his military oath?

If so, as fair disclosure, he should explain in verifiable detail when, where, what, how, why and to whom he reported the easily observable corruption, probable war crimes and crimes against humanity by the U.S. military in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, including the mass serial killing of women, children and other noncombatant civilians.

If not, then shame on him for his hypocrisy and for attacking PFC Manning, a true, courageous patriot, American and humanitarian who makes all such oath-breakers look so inadequate by comparison and thereby unavoidably exposes their psychological denial of their underlying motive to castigate, denigrate, vilify, accuse and demonize PFC Manning and hide their own treachery and treason by obeying all orders of their superiors, including illegal, criminal orders according to the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Reportedly this furor over the SF Pride 2013 Grand Marshall was instigated by some military gays who do not live in San Francisco.

Many if not most U.S. military service persons, gay and not gay, may feel insulted by Army PFC Bradley Manning, because he is one of the rare such persons who understood and obeyed his military Oath to the U.S. Constitution. PFC Manning honored his Oath with high intelligence and great moral courage when he observed war crimes and crimes against humanity, and Manning's actions make other military service persons look shameful by comparison.

Does a U.S. patriot go to war as a combat soldier and watch women, children and other non-combatant civilians murdered routinely, after such combat soldiers are trained how to evade and circumvent the Rules of Engagement so as not to technically violate the terms of the Geneva Conventions and other U.S. signatory treaties?

A true patriot is always loyal to his or her country and its constitution, but never loyal to a corrupt, criminal government. Moral cowards and other obsequious sycophants who blindly, roboticly obey all orders for their own comfort and security do not pass the test of true patriotism.

This public relations disaster was created within the SF Pride organization, and it needs to get on the right side of history, instead of pandering to some gay persons who seems to be obsessed with the fetish of wearing a military uniform in a gay parade. Since when is marching in a gay citizens' parade in a military uniform of such overriding importance? What could be more shallow?

Peace.

Posted by Guest on May. 03, 2013 @ 6:48 am

After reading Manning's statement, is is plain to see that he was involved in a covert operation that lasted several years pre-dating his time in Iraq. After witnessing atrocities, did he go public and disavow any of this? No - he allowed it to continue while he continued his surveillance and leaking of classified information, to an organization run by a foreign national. He never went public - he got caught. Patriot? No. Even if you support him, you could never call him a Patriot. Read the definition.

Posted by Richmondman on May. 11, 2013 @ 6:20 am

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