UPDATE: SF Vet Group Calls for SF Pride Prez, Lisa Williams, to Resign

American Legion Logo
American Legion Logo

The brouhaha around SF Prides hasty withdrawal of Bradley Manning's invite as Hon. Grand Marshall at Pride continues to mount.

The chorus of community voices calling for Bradley Manning to be reinstated as Honorary Grand Marshall of the 2013 SF Pride Parade on June 30th pitch just had another layer added as the Bay Area Reporter came out for reinstatement in an editorial and American Legion Post 315 has pressed for not only Manning's reinstatement but Pride Committee President, Lisa L. Williams, to resign immediately.

The decision came at an emergency meeting on April 28th arranged by Commander John Caldera to address the issue with other members of SF's Bob Basker Post 315 where the Vets voted Pro Manning and Anti Williams.

John Caldera
John Caldera

“The call for resignation is not a personal attack against Ms. Williams but rather a swift and appropriate response to the disappointing and discrediting actions of the President of San Francisco Pride against the LGBT community.” said Commander John Caldera who also has served as president of SF's Veterans Affairs Commission since March of 2012.

For the past five years, Post 315 has served as a “Community Partner” of SF Pride. After a lengthy discussion, the Post Officers and Members unanimously voted, according to their press release; "for the resignation of Ms. Williams for conduct which has brought shame and disgrace to membership of SF Pride as well as the LGBT community of the City of San Francisco."

SF Pride Board President Lisa Williams
SF Pride Board President Lisa Williams

On April 26th Ms. Williams penned and posted a statement to Pride's Facebook page where she claims that Bradley Manning’s nomination, “was a mistake and should never have been allowed to happen.”

Members of the post believe that by taking this action, Ms. Williams has negated and belittled all the voices of our community leaders and local celebrities who nominated Manning in the first place and then voted for his inclusion.
Furthermore members of Post 315 were immensely rankled by the part of Ms. Williams statement that read: “even the hint of support for (Manning's) 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. It is, and would be, an insult to every one, gay and straight, who has ever served in the military of this country.”

The Post does not agree and instead cites the number of corporate Pride Parade sponsors whose actions they say have put Vets and non-Vets, "in harm's way".

Bradley Manning mask that was recently distributed via Internet for SF protest.
Bradley Manning mask that was recently distributed via Internet for SF protest.

They charge that Wells Fargo and Bank of America, two of America’s largest loan mortgagors, and Pride funding partners, each has foreclosed on over 200 military members whose homes were wrongfully taken during 2009 and 2010. These foreclosures violate the Service Members Civil Relief Act, a federal law requiring banks to obtain court orders before foreclosing on active-duty service members. Bank of America, now being sued for $1 billion by the US government for engaging in a systematic mortgage fraud which the US Attorney called "spectacularly brazen in scope."

The Post believes Pride parade doesn't see the hypocrisy or conflict of interest in how these illegal practices pose a greater and ongoing risk of life and well-being of Vets and serving soldiers alike-nor do they care-as the money the banks and corporations provide allows the Parade run far outweighing these mitigating issues.

The members of the Post believe and reaffirm that SF Pride needs to be more, “people first and corporations second” and not the other way around.

The American Legion Post summed up their position saying; Bradley Manning might not represent the ideal as a Grand Marshal to everybody but he does represent as a symbol for the continuing struggle for human rights, doing the right thing and telling the truth. The San Francisco Queer community has the right to be heard and honor whom they chose.

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