The president of San Francisco's gay pride celebration retracted an offer Friday night for jailed Wikileaks source Bradley Manning to serve as the event's grand marshal in absentia, calling it a mistake.
SFist reported on Friday that Lisa Williams, president of the event's board of directors, said in a statement that Manning was contacted prematurely regarding the honor by a staff member. Williams said that staff member did not speak for the organization and has since been disciplined.
"Bradley Manning is facing the military justice system of this country," Williams said in her statement. "We all await the decision of that system. However, until that time, even the hint of support for actions which placed in harms 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. It is, and would be, an insult to every one, gay and straight, who has ever served in the military of this country."
Manning, a U.S. Army private and openly gay man, pled guilty on Feb. 28 to 10 counts of supplying Wikileaks with information it later released online. He has pleaded not guilty to 12 other counts of "aiding the enemy" by knowingly supplying the terrorist group al-Qaeda with information. He faces up to 20 years in jail.
The Pride "electoral college," group of formal grand marshals, tapped Manning to receive the honor for the June 30 parade, a pick that Williams said was repudiated by the event's board.
"What these events have revealed is a system whereby a less-than-handful of people may decide who represents the LGBT community's highest aspirations as grand marshals for SF Pride," she said. "This is a systemic failure that now has become apparent and will be rectified. In point of fact, less than 15 people actually cast votes for Bradley Manning."
According to the Associated Press, Manning's selection had inspired former military analyst Daniel Ellsberg -- the source of the files that became known as the Pentagon Papers -- to take part on his behalf.
"I and many other LGBT Manning supporters are deeply disappointed by this sudden change in position on the part of the committee," said Rainey Reitman, who is part of a pro-Manning organization, the Bradley Manning Support Network. "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."
[Image via Agence France-Presse]