SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Organizers of San Francisco’s pride weekend festivities have yanked the welcome mat away from the National Guard, voting to ban the Guard from setting up a booth at the festival.
The decision comes at the same time Pride organizers are allowing a controversial Army private who leaked military secrets to be honorary grand marshal.
The board of the San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee rejected a request from the Guard to set up an informational booth at Civic Center Plaza during Pride Weekend.
Last year, the National Guard had a booth at Pride Weekend for the first time – staffed by gay soldiers – following the repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. The Guard was also welcomed at Pride events in Los Angeles and San Diego.
The military’s current ban on transgender service members serving openly, minority recruitment tactics, and sexual assault scandals were factors in the board’s decision, Pride Executive Director George Ridgely told LGBT news weekly Bay Area Reporter.
Board President Gary Virginia said in a letter the board was willing to review its decision after this year’s event, according to Bay Area Reporter.
Critics of the decision see the move as short-sighted. “We find this to be really particularly disturbing because only LGBT people in the city of San Francisco are being affected by this,” said Fred Schein, president of the San Francisco chapter of the LGBT advocacy group, Log Cabin Republicans. “LGBT people around the state have full access and are welcoming these recruiters … but San Francisco is being denied that option.”
There were some protests against the National Guard’s presence at last year’s San Francisco event, which also featured the controversy over Army Pvt. Bradley Manning of Wikileaks fame being selected – then dropped – as grand marshal of the parade.
Manning, who now goes by the name Chelsea Elizabeth Manning, is again invited to be honorary grand marshal in this year’s parade.
She was convicted last year of violating the Espionage Act for releasing classified military documents and sentenced to 35 years confinement, with a possible parole release in eight years.