SF Pride Parade organizers accused of discrimination

May 7, 2013 6:18:05 PM PDT
Delaware's governor was expected to sign a measure Tuesday making it the 11th state in the nation to allow same-sex marriage. The U.S. Supreme Court will make a decision soon on California's same-sex marriage ban. In the meantime, organizers of San Francisco's gay pride parade find themselves in the unusual position of being accused of discrimination.

A discrimination complaint has been filed with the San Francisco Human Rights Commission against the San Francisco Pride board of directors because of the way it handled the selection of one of the parade's grand marshals. He's a man some people call a heroic whistleblower, but others say he's a treacherous traitor.

San Francisco's Gay Pride Parade has been going strong for more than four decades. This year, there's an unprecedented uproar over the selection of one of the parade's grand marshals -- Bradley Manning, the gay Army private accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified government documents to WikiLeaks.

"I think that Bradley Manning is one of the most courageous people for exposing international war crimes perpetrated by the United States," said supporter Gary Virginia. He's a member of San Francisco Pride's so-called "electoral college" and a former parade grand marshal himself, who voted for Manning.

However, Pride Board of Director's President Lisa Williams has revoked the selection saying it was an error by a staff person. "His nomination was a mistake and should never have been allowed to happen," she said.

That move is being applauded by Fred Schein of the San Francisco's Log Cabin Republicans, gay Republicans, who considers manning a traitor. "He took actions that we believe deeply put American lives at risk and quite possibly, Americans died because of what he did," Schein said.

Manning is in federal prison preparing for trial next month and would not have been able to ride in the parade, but the controversy now focuses on the credibility of the organizers who rescinded the vote. On Tuesday, a group of protestors filed a discrimination complaint against SF Pride's board of directors. Their attorney David Waggoner says, "The Pride board stomped on the moral convictions of the grand marshals who voted for Manning. This is illegal under San Francisco law."

Virginia is one of those who filed the complaint. "I don't think any of this is personal. It's really about integrity and facts," he said.

Lisa Williams has not responded to ABC7's requests for comment.