Chelsea Manning, formerly Pfc. Bradley Manning, who pled guilty to espionage charges, has been chosen to be an honorary Grand Marshal of the San Francisco Gay Pride Parade this year.
San Francisco’s leading LGBT newspaper, the Bay Area Reporter, says the Board which runs the Pride Parade made the decision to honor Manning. The newspaper quoted Pride Board Chairman Gary Virginia saying, “The current Pride board feels we're publicly apologizing to [Manning] and her supporters, and making her an honorary grand marshal to make amends for last year," adding, "she's worthy of the honor for exposing war crimes and advocating for transgender rights within the prison system."
The "apology" to Manning from the Pride Board refers to the fact that Manning was previously chosen as a Grand Marshal of last year’s 2013 Pride Parade, but that invitation was rescinded after backlash from the community. The criticism included those who noted the Board could have instead chosen to honor the lawyers and plaintiffs who won the landmark Prop. 8 case before the U.S. Supreme Court. While those plaintiffs marched in the parade as citizens, they were not participating as Grand Marshals.
Manning, on the other hand, pled guilty to the largest leak of secret government documents in history, some of which were found with Osama bin Laden when he was killed. In court, when Manning was asked if that was wrong, he responded, "Yes, your honor."
After his guilty plea, Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking 700,000 documents through WikiLeaks. It was near the end of the trial that Manning acknowledged being transgender, and is now known as Chelsea Manning.
During the trial Manning was portrayed as a traitor, with lead prosecutor Major Ashden Fein saying, "He was not a humanist; he was a hacker who described his fellow soldiers as 'dykes' or 'global idiots'. He was not a troubled young soul; he was a determined soldier with the ability, knowledge and desire to harm the US. He was not a whistleblower; he was a traitor."
The 2014 San Francisco Pride Parade is June 29th.