Even as he sits in a Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, jail, Bradley Manning was not forgotten at LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) pride parades across the country this past month, when supporters marched in his honor.
The various pride contingents in cities such as San Francisco, New York and Chicago are part of an international campaign demanding the US government drop all charges against Manning, who stands accused of leaking classified documents to the whistleblower web site WikiLeaks and the news organization Reuters.
Kris Lew, an organizer of Sunday's New York City Pride contingent, believes the scene was a fitting one to honor the 23-year-old Manning. “In the spirit of the Stonewall Rebellion, we've got to stand up for someone who has fought hard for the community and then gave up his freedom in his quest for truth and transparency,” said Lew in a press statement.
Manning, who is gay, has seen widespread support from the human rights community. Supporters, such as Andy Thayer of the Chicago Gay Liberation Network, contend that Manning released information that should have been in the public domain.
“Bradley Manning has stood with the LGBT community before and we look forward to him marching with us again when he's free,” said Thayer, who is also an advisory board member of the Bradley Manning Support Network, in a press statement.
To Thayer, it was pertinent that Manning be represented in the Chicago parade on Sunday, June 26 which was estimated to have around half a million people in attendance. “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.”
LGBT rights activist Lt. Dan Choi agrees, telling Firedoglake blogger Kevin Gosztola last week that what Manning leaked is “no different from what Daniel Ellsberg did with the Pentagon Papers.”