“For the past four decades, SF Pride has stood firmly to advance its mission to educate the world about LGBT issues, commemorate LGBT heritage, celebrate LGBT culture, and liberate LGBT people. It remains a considerable honor and utmost commitment to engage the community to recognize those persons who have positively advanced the LGBT liberation movement, representing the full spectrum of contributions to advance full equality for all.
Presenting various categories and criteria for annual parade grand marshal nominees offers SF Pride and the community a broad range of opportunities to recognize and honor a diverse range of individuals and organizations for their achievements on behalf of LGBT people. Grand Marshal Categories include Celebrity, Lifetime Achievement, Organizational, Community, Special Guests, and Pink Brick.
The SF Pride Board recognizes and regrets the recent error in the announcement of Mr. Bradley Manning as the Electoral College’s Community Grand Marshal. The Electoral College was not the appropriate forum for his nomination. The longstanding Grand Marshal Policy provides that one community grand marshal shall be elected by an electoral college composed of Community Grand and Honorary Marshals elected or appointed since 1999. Grand Marshal/Pink Brick Policy, Sections 3.3 and 5.2.3. Under that longstanding policy, the community grand marshal upon whom the Electoral College votes is defined as “a local hero (individual) not being a celebrity.” Grand Marshal/Pink Brick Policy, Section 5.2.3.
Because Mr. Manning is not local, by definition under the Grand Marshal policy, he may not be nominated or elected by the Electoral College as its community grand marshal. The SF Pride Board determined that because the nomination and election had been conducted in the incorrect forum, the election could not be upheld as valid. Mr. Manning might rightfully qualify as a nominee for Celebrity Grand Marshal or another community grand marshal spot, but not as the Electoral College’s nominee, as a matter of longstanding, written policy.
The integrity of the elections process and procedures are important to SF Pride and the community. Those that nominated Mr. Manning surely knew that he is not a local, Bay Area community member, and that he should not have been voted on by the Electoral College. His nomination is more appropriately debated and voted on by the public than by a small group, and it could be next year when nominations open.
Taking sides in the controversy concerning Mr. Manning’s conduct is not appropriate for the organization and falls outside its core mission. We apologize to Mr. Manning, knowing that he did not ask to be at the center of a community firestorm, and for any harsh words that may have been said about him. In the end, SF Pride recognizes that becoming embroiled in the controversy concerning the merit of Mr. Manning’s conduct was an honest mistake. However, because the Grand Marshal/Pink Brick policy precludes Mr. Manning from being nominated for, or elected as a community grand marshal by the Electoral College, SF Pride stands by his disqualification on those unequivocal policy grounds.
Moving forward, in the spirit of fairness and to respectfully honor the contributions of qualified nominees, the SF Pride Board is re-opening the Electoral College’s voting process so that it may select a Community Grand Marshal from the remaining two, duly qualified nominees for the 2013 Community Grand Marshal: Bebe Sweetbriar and Associate Justice Jim Humes. Members of the Electoral College will have until May 16 to re-cast their vote.
Starting on Wednesday, May 8, ballots will be sent to the Electoral College both by email and snail mail. Votes can be cast by either email or postal mail to the SF Pride offices at 1841 Market Street, 4th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94103; Att: Electoral Voting. Votes must be cast by 5pm PST on Thursday, May 16. The elected Grand Marshal will be announced by noon the following day, Friday, May 17. The SF Pride Board of Directors appreciates the support of concerned members of the community. These matters have been sorted out towards a fair resolution. We encourage all former Community and Honorary Grand Marshals in the Electoral College to participate in this extended opportunity to select a qualified Community Grand Marshal for the 2013 Parade and Celebration.
Shortly before this statement was released, SF Pride received a complaint filed against it at the San Francisco Human Rights Commission concerning Mr. Manning. This statement is not a response to that complaint, and SF Pride will be responding to that complaint in the proper forum, not in the press and/or at board meetings.”