Controversy begets controversy, and that is certainly the case when it comes to U.S. Army soldier Bradley Manning.
Manning, who made headlines in 2010 as an alleged WikiLeaks whistleblower, found himself in the spotlight again last week when the SF Pride Committee nominated the openly gay soldier as grand marshal for this year’s Pride celebrations — then quickly took it back.
Now, a group of gay activists plan to protest the organization’s decision outside the SF Pride office on Monday.
According to a statement released by event organizers, Manning is an ideal candidate for grand marshal because of his brave activism “against the military industrial complex.”
Protest co-organizer Lisa Geduldig said in a statement:
“He’s an antiwar hero, a whistleblower who is gay. He was lipsynching to Lady Gaga while downloading classified documents. It doesn’t get more gay than that.”
Currently, the 25-year-old soldier is in custody at a Kansas military prison, where he stands accused of passing classified documents about the Iraq war to the WikiLeaks website.
Since Manning’s trial begins in June, he would’ve served as the grand marshal only in spirit. However, SF Pride officials called his nomination a mistake — a big one.
In a statement released Saturday, SF Pride Board President Lisa L. Williams said a staff person, under his own initiative, prematurely contacted Manning based on internal conversations within the organization.
To add to the burn, she added:
“Even the hint of support for actions which placed in harm’s 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.”
Plenty of others who are relieved Manning won’t partake in San Francisco’s Pride festivities in June.
Stephen Peters, president of American Military Partners Association, was one of the people who called upon the Pride Committee to rescind its offer. He told the Associated Press:
“Manning’s blatant disregard for the safety of our service members and the security of our nation should not be praised.”
Monday’s protest in support of Manning takes place at 5 p.m. outside SF Pride Committee’s fourth floor office at Market and Pearl Streets. As of this morning, 157 people have signed on to attend the rally on Facebook.