(Updated below with a response from Manning supporters, who held a press conference yesterday outside Pride HQ and drew attention to the Pride board's own violations of its rules.)
At a feisty community meeting last week, the SF Pride board had set June 7 as a deadline for reconsidering its controversial decision to strip Bradley Manning of his grand marshalship. Late in the day today, Pride issued a statement saying that the community proposals to reinstate Manning had failed to garner consensus majority within the board.
The Pride board also announced news in the case that had been filed against it with the city's Human Rights Commission: the HRC has declined to investigate the charges, based on a precedent set in a 2007 case against the Chinese New Year Parade. In that decision, the HRC determined that the city had not broken any discrimination laws when it funded the Chinese New Year parade after the parade had explicitly barred a group representing Falun Gong from marching.
The full SF Pride boardpress release follows. (The board is really, really concerned with safety!):
For Immediate Release: Pride Responds to May 31 Community Forum
June 7, 2013, 6:28pm
Over the past several weeks, SF Pride has sought to respectfully listen to and consider the various opinions and perspectives on the matter of Pfc. Bradley Manning and related interests in extending representative support for Pfc. Manning. The SF Pride Board of Directors recognizes the divergent opinions regarding the matter of Pfc. Manning, but none of the three main options we received from the community forum on May 31 garnered a consensus majority.
Relatedly, a formal complaint to the City and County of San Francisco's Human Rights Commission (HRC) was recently filed. The HRC has recently determined that it will not investigate the discrimination claims filed against SF Pride. In its decision, the HRC cited a declaration in a 2007 court case regarding the Chinese New Year Parade that the City’s anti-discrimination laws do not:
“restrict the ability of a grantee that is engaged in a constitutionally protected artistic or cultural expression to select the message that it will express. In the context of inherently expressive artistic and cultural events, such as the Parade and Street Fair,… [T]he selection of the message that those events will express cannot be separated from the selection of the persons who will participate in those events.”
Therefore, SF Pride will continue to produce this year's Pride Celebration to ensure a safe and joyful time for all attendees as safety and security is our number #1 priority. San Francisco is, and will remain, a beacon of hope for the LGBT liberation movement. We truly appreciate the vibrant diversity of our community, and look forward to advancing efforts to effectively “educate the world, commemorate our heritage, celebrate our culture, and liberate our people.”
In response, Manning for Grand Marshal supporters charged that the Pride board is violating its own policy and procedures by altering the election rules. Here is their statement, and here is the Facebook page for Bradley Manning Pride events.
SF Pride Violates Its Own Community Grand Marshal Policy
The leadership of the San Francisco Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Pride Parade Committee, while stating that their Community Grand Marshal policy prevented them from allowing Bradley Manning to be a Grand Marshal in this years parade, has violated those same policies regarding its own Board's selection of additional Community Grand Marshals.
The Grand Marshal selection process is clearly spelled out in SF Pride's official "Policy and Procedures Manual." Under the chapter of that manual entitled 'Grand Marshal/Pink Brick Policy," there is a sub-section numbered "5.2.4" that clearly states:
Up to three of the community grand marshals shall be elected by the Board at its May meeting each year.
In their press release dated May 22, 2013, SF Pride announced and listed five Community Grand Marshals elected by the Board of Directors: Dr. Betty Sullivan, Mario Bemton, Veronika Fimbres, Chill D, Perry Lang & Kenneth Monteiro (as one). This is in clear violation of their stated policies and procedures.
In addition, the same policies governing Grand Marshal selection states under section 5.1.1, "There may by up to six Community Grand Marshals" in total. Because of the Board's selection of five Marshals, they bumped the total number up to eight, putting themselves in clear violation of that policy as well.
Former SF Pride Board President and former Community Grand Marshal Joey Cain said regarding this violation:
"I think it makes it pretty clear that adherence to policy was never the real issue regarding Bradley Manning's election by the Electoral Collage. The Pride leadership overturned that election because of the pressure they got from groups outside of San Francisco, period. Are they now going to drop two of the Grand Marshals in order to be in compliance with these other policies? If they are purporting to adhere to their policies, it should be done across the board."
Cain and others have contended that the Pride Board approved Manning as a Community Grand Marshal at a meeting on April 23, the same meeting where they voted to select Dr. Betty Sullivan as a Grand Marshal. It was only after a campaign organized by an LGBT enlisted service members group in San Diego flooded the Pride office with calls and emails protesting the election of Manning that the Board overturned the vote.
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