Supporters on Sunday marched to support Bradley Manning Sunday morning in the 2011 San Francisco Pride Parade. Contingents also marched in New York and Chicago. Bradley Manning (who himself was an active opponent of the military’s “Dont Ask, Don’t Tell” policy) is being increasingly hailed by LGBT activists as a hero.
Outspoken Army Lieutenant Daniel Choi, who is one of the most active and well known opponents of DADT, recently joined the list, by announcing that he was “proud to stand side by side with Bradley Manning.” Lt. Choi was kicked out of the military a year ago, after coming out on the Rachael Maddow show, despite a petition on his behalf being signed by over 162,000 people. Speaking to a journalist at Netroots Nation last week, he said:
“Whenever a government tries to stifle the truth by censoring the people, we sometimes take a look at the people. And that’s what’s going on with Bradley Manning. People have been trying to scapegoat him as someone who is crazy or someone who should not have gone to war but I think that Bradley Manning is a great soldier who did something as far as morality.
Legendary international human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell also recently hailed Bradley as a “gay hero” for his known commitment to equal human rights. Tatchell writes:
“Bradley Manning is openly gay. He has participated in Pride marches and campaigned against the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” restrictions on gay military personnel. In 2008, he attended a rally in New York to oppose attempts to ban same-sex marriage in California. Manning is also a humanist and a man with a conscience. When he discovered human rights violations by the US armed forces and duplicity by the US government, he was shocked and distressed. He became disillusioned with his country’s foreign and military policy; believing it was betraying the US ideals of democracy and human rights. “
Another vocal supporter is Andy Thayer of the Chicago Gay Liberation Network, who marched at the Chicago Pride Parade on Sunday. He is also a recent member of the advisory board member of the Bradley Manning Support Network. He told Truth-out.org:
“Bradley Manning has stood with the LGBT community before, and we look forward to him marching with us again when he’s free. Bradley has a strong track record of standing up for human rights and equality. If he did what he is accused of—if he released information to the American people that should have been public in the first place—then it’s clear that his motivation was rooted in a commitment to social justice. He’s a hero.”
Thayer’s group marched for Bradley at the Chicago Pride Parade, and supporters also marched at the New York City Pride Parade on Sunday. They were joined by CODEPINK and Veterans for Peace. A very strong contingent is expected at the London Pride Parade on July 2nd.
LGBT and Q supporters who could not attent a pride event, but would like to speak out on behalf of Bradley Manning can also join Tatchell and others on the “I am Bradley Manning” photo petition, and tag their photo “LGBTQ.” The petition is optimized for social sharing.
For giving us the truth about the human cost of our own wars, Bradley Manning now faces life in prison or the death penalty. Never before in the history of the U.S. has someone been charged with “Aiding the enemy through indirect means” by making information public. If Americans from all walks of life do not take action now to support Bradley, the outcome of Bradley’s trial could set a chilling precedent for the future of whistleblowers and government accountability.
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