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Mainstream LGBT rights groups have abandoned Bradley Manning

Why have the HRC and GLAAD thrown Manning under the bus?
Sunday, August 4, 2013

Gay 25-year-old U.S. Army private Bradley Manning stood trial for supposedly aiding the enemy by passing classified information to Wikileaks, including several hundred thousand pages of army reports, diplomatic cables and information that detailed the killing of civilians by American soldiers.

Manning was found not guilty of “aiding the enemy,” but was found guilty of six counts of violating the Espionage Act of 1917 and faces a potential sentence of 136 years in prison.

Patrick Semansky, AP
In this July 30, 2013 photo, Army Pfc. Bradley Manning is escorted out of a courthouse in Fort Meade, Md.

The trial, which ended last week, was marked by government intimidation of the media and comes after Manning spent almost a year in solitary confinement in Quantico, Virginia, prompting international outrage.

One of the interesting factors is that two of the largest and most well funded LGBT rights groups in the U.S. have stayed quiet about Manning, his reprehensible treatment in custody and his trial. Why has Manning, whose revelations about the U.S. Army’s actions epitomize social justice in action, gotten the cold shoulder from the Human Rights Campaign and GLAAD (formerly known as the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation)? The silence of these groups has been deafening.

First, Manning is the opposite of everything that these groups seek to portray as the image of “gay Americans.”

I use those quotes because the majority of LGBT Americans don’t conform to these upwardly mobile, white, polished, virile male stereotypes. Manning doesn’t look like CNN anchor Anderson Cooper. With his slight frame, lower-class background, questioning of his gender identity, inability to hold down a typical job, general dorkiness and dysfunctional family life, Manning does not fit the poster boy image that GLAAD or the HRC would hold up and promote.

It’s bizarre because Manning is actually what many, if not most, LGBT people have been at one point or another – an outsider, a loner, a person who does not fit in or conform.

Second, organizations like the HRC, which had net assets of over $32.7 million at the end of last year and claims more than a millions members and supporters, happens to have the financial backing of major military industrial corporations, including Lockheed Martin, which is sponsoring the HRC’s upcoming national gala in Washington D.C. and Booz Allen Hamilton, a corporate partner for the national event, as well as Northrop Grumman a sponsor of their Los Angeles gala.

U.S. government contracts account for at least 85 percent of Lockheed Martin’s work, Northrop Grumman is intricately tied to our military and Booz Allen Hamilton is wrapped up in Washington’s lobbying morass – kicking into high gear now that legislators are finally considering limits on the NSA’s surveillance capabilities.

There was no quid pro quo, however, the HRC and GLAAD know exactly where their bread is buttered. The Human Rights Campaign spent millions of dollars and countless volunteer hours to lobby for the repeal of Don’t ask, don’t tell, ensuring that patriotic and law-abiding gays and lesbians can continue to serve in the US military and fight its wars in far-flung places.

Each of these defense organizations depends on federal money; therefore, the more able-bodied young men and women who sign up for the US military, the better. The more the American war-making machine expands, even if shrouded in utter secrecy, the better.

GLAAD has had Goldman Sachs (that bastion of awesomeness) as a patron of its media awards in the past and Verizon (remember those agreements with the NSA?) as a supporter while doling out awards to men like Anderson Cooper, who came out at the height of his career after following in the footsteps of other journalists, and Bill Clinton, the man responsible for DADT and the Defense of Marriage Act.

Self-censorship is a beautiful thing. It can’t be proven. It occurs as a matter of course and is a great example of the banal, duplicitous intertwined relationships between the military industrial complex, the U.S. government and corporate nonprofits.

Why would the Human Rights Campaign risk offending the sensibilities of Lockheed Martin, Booz Allen Hamilton and Northrop Grumman? Because these and other defense companies, drowning in profit, might turn off the “diversity” spigot that sustains the Human Rights Campaign.

Why wouldn’t GLAAD support a frail, maladjusted young queer man whose efforts exposed U.S. military malfeasance? It’s much easier – and requires no courage whatsoever – to honor those who are privileged and already at the very top of society.

Abandoned by these mainstream rights organizations, who will speak up in defense of Manning?

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55 more reader comments:

  1. Of course they have. Mainstream gay culture is getting more and more selfish, stupid and shallow daily.

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 5:25pm
  2. Wow…

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 5:25pm
  3. shame on us for being so judgmental about your brother

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 5:27pm
  4. Bradley Manning did the crime so now he has to pay for it he broke the law and should be given the death penalty for treason, It´s nothing to do that he is Gay at all so stop making it out that it is.

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 5:27pm
  5. Manning is a traitor…thankfully none of his treachery resulted in the deaths of any of our brave men and women who are fighting in the war. It doesn´t matter one damn bit if he´s gay, straight, white, black, etc. He´s a traitor, and should be treated as such.

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 5:31pm
  6. So the government views us its citizens and media its enemy?…good to know

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 5:33pm
  7. Matthew, although I agree that his treatment has nothing to do with his orientation, if he had committed any of the atrocities, committed the United States military and government, that he exposed, he would be a free man now. I am sorry, you can be a tool if you choose, these crimes were committed by my government, with my money, in my name; I have the right to know! Even the Pentagon said he compromised nothing. He should get some time for violating the his duties, but even the judge disagrees with you!

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 5:34pm
  8. In terms of Bradley Manning – he broke the laws of the nation and the military. IF he had access to wrong doing by our country – he should have used the protocol that exists to register concern – not give our documents to an outside party. There is nothing about that which is right, and it is considered treason.

    He knew the rules. IF he he thought he did the right thing, then he should accept the punishment that goes with his actions. I feel he committed treason, and I feel he should be punished.

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 5:35pm
  9. The real traitors are our government but you´re too blind to see it.

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 5:35pm
  10. I am proudly married to a retired SGM one of those soldiers . what he did was selfish and wrong .

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 5:36pm
  11. What does Bradley Manning have to do with LGBT rights?

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 5:37pm
  12. His treatment prior to his trial was utterly reprehensible, and as Americans, we ought to be ashamed of our military for having perpetrated that torture. That said, he was treated badly irrespective of his sexuality, not because of his sexuality. It´s up to the mainstream to condemn his treatment, and targeting gay advocacy organizations because they haven´t spoken up for his rights is a ridiculous charge. I think based upon his treatment prior to his trial, he ought to be released immediately, with an apology. When we as a nation treat an American citizen with such contempt, even when he is guilty of the crimes, there is no reason we ought to punish him further; he has suffered enough.

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 5:39pm
  13. And they would have covered it up. Let´s not be naive here.

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 5:39pm
  14. Because the issues at play in the Manning case have little to do with LGBT issues. That´s it. There´s not ´abandonment´, because there was no reason for large LGBT groups to get involved. Those organizations have a purpose, and this doesn´t have anything to do with that purpose.

    Mainstream news and political media should be covering him more, because it falls more under their umbrella. His identity effected his mindset, but the actions he took and the actions taken against him are not related to equality of sexual orientation or gender identity.

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 5:39pm
  15. Because the issues at play in the Manning case have little to do with LGBT issues. That´s it. There´s not ´abandonment´, because there was no reason for large LGBT groups to get involved. Those organizations have a purpose, and this doesn´t have anything to do with that purpose.

    Mainstream news and political media should be covering him more, because it falls more under their umbrella. His identity effected his mindset, but the actions he took and the actions taken against him are not related to equality of sexual orientation or gender identity.

    This op-ed is the mindset that could set the LGBT rights movement back quite a bit. We should not be reducing or oversimplifying anyone to nothing more than their orientation or gender identity.

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 5:39pm
  16. He didn´t commit treason. Perhaps before you throw that word out you should know its meaning. It is very specifically defined in our constitution and he did none of the three things that constitute treason. There can be a debate about whether what he did was right or wrong, but it wasn´t treason.

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 5:40pm
  17. He was. Whistle blower on horrible actions by our government. That´s why the government views to people he told, us the American citizens as the”enemy”he leaked too. Scary they´ve viewed us that way.

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 5:45pm
  18. He did one moral thing, then wandered right past that into espionage and treason.

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 5:48pm
  19. As they should. He´s a Traitor.

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 5:48pm
  20. Jason Chaika I am questioning the very same thing? WTF? Even if he were Gay it doesn´t make his activities any easier to defend. I think that GLAAD and HRC chose wisely. Not FOR the military industrial complex but for America. Even with the banks accounts indicated we have quiet a full plate. I don´t see how defending Manning has anything to do other than to distract from the primary mission of these groups. I am glad these contractors are funding GLAAD and HRC. I don´t want manning abused but I don´t see how the self inflicted needs of the one out weighs the needs of the many. GLAAD and HRC. Stay focused. this is off the mark.

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 5:50pm
  21. HRC & GLAAD are in the military´s pockets…NO WONDER. Don´t ask me for anymore money.

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 5:53pm
  22. His sexual orientation has absolutely NOTHING to do with what he did, whether you agree with it or not.

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 5:57pm
  23. Well of course they have. The mainstream gay groups are all wholly owned subsidiaries of the military/corporate machine, and get much of their funding from it.

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 6:04pm
  24. FKKKK Manning!!!! He´s a traitor and a disgrace to the military!!!

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 6:05pm
  25. Hm…let me carefully phrase this.

    Manning´s orientation has nothing to do with his treatment; if one wanted that addressed, they´d have to look to the media to assist. This is not necessarily an LGBTQ rights issue, although I can see how it looks like those two organizations are ´in the government´s pocket´. Now to the point of whether or not he was wrong for what he did, there´s two sides of the coin to look at. Did he possibly put military members like myself and my battles at risk by leaking those documents and that information? Probably. At the same time the government is notorious for doing backhanded, cloak and dagger type things, and even more notorious for covering those things up, I feel that the only way that the people will ever get any form of transparency is from people such as Manning and Snowden. Whether one would like to acknowledge it or not, the fact of the matter is that many people employed by our government are either forced to do some very distasteful things, or do them of their own volition. What the public has to realize is that not everything the military or government does is noble or for a just cause, and that is all I will say about the matter.

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 6:16pm
  26. Hm…let me carefully phrase this.

    Manning´s orientation has nothing to do with his treatment; if one wanted that addressed, they´d have to look to the media to assist. This is not necessarily an LGBTQ rights issue, although I can see how it looks like those two organizations are ´in the government´s pocket´. Now to the point of whether or not he was wrong for what he did, there´s two sides of the coin to look at. Did he possibly put military members like myself and my battles at risk by leaking those documents and that information? Probably. At the same time the government is notorious for doing backhanded, cloak and dagger type things, and even more notorious for covering those things up. I feel that the only way that the people will ever get any form of transparency is from people such as Manning and Snowden. Whether one would like to acknowledge it or not, the fact of the matter is that many people employed by our government are either forced to do some very distasteful things, or do them of their own volition. What the public has to realize is that not everything the military or government does is noble or for a just cause, and that is all I will say about the matter.

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 6:16pm
  27. Garcia, great post, you touched on all points exactly as I see them

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 6:44pm
  28. We´ve already tortured him naked in the desert, we´ve already denied him a speedy trial for three years. America is only proving to the world that the promises we make to our own people are shit…much less any we make to other countries.

    <–this gay man says Free Bradley Manning!

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 6:46pm
  29. This is as fallacious an argument as claiming that pro-choice groups should have defended Gosnell. Just because he happens to be gay doesn´t mean that everything that happens to him happened because he was gay.

    I actually support what Manning did but glbt support groups really have nothing to do with it.

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 6:50pm
  30. because Breanna is trans* that would be believable.

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 6:58pm
  31. the guy is not a good guy!!!

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 6:58pm
  32. yes i heard brian manning is transgered

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 7:10pm
  33. I honestly cannot believe some of you “people”……

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 7:13pm
  34. Manning is not a traitor, he is a young man who felt he was doing the right thing exposing something that was wrong, it took character to stand up to do what he did, character many who are quick to judge him don´t have an ounce of. His mistake was in his judgement in how he exposed the information. His mistake was being young, inexperienced and naive about the consequences for his actions. He exposed much, and regardless of what you feel about what he did, positive change has already happened because of the exposure. He´s no traitor, nor is he a hero, he had good intentions, but bad judgement… So sit there on your asses behind the safety of a computer and judge this young man who served his country and revealed things he felt were wrong at great risk to himself and his future.

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 7:26pm
  35. so if you expose the government for doing something thats OBVIOUSLY WRONG ON ALL STANDARDS. That makes you a traitor? im dissapointed in this page. This is not gay culture, this is selfishness and stupidity

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 7:47pm
  36. The Bradley Manning issue is NOT an LGBT issue….just like if Bradley was a woman, this would not be a women´s issue.

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 7:47pm
  37. the left media is attacking this man because he exposed the obama administration. while im no right winger by any means. it helps to do research and look past media bias. and ive been seeing alot of bias on this page lately

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 7:52pm
  38. and brian, anytime a gay man gets punched in a bar. this page makes it a gay issue. while i know its wrong and im against that kind of stuff. this page will only bring light to it if the man was gay. this man is gay, but he is exposing the obama administration. soo in that case, nobody cares

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 7:53pm
  39. why shuld lgbt folks give a crap, this morron, like sniowden are both traitors wwho deserve nothing but a firing squad, and no this isnt a lgbt issue

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 7:57pm
  40. so does the military serve the people it was founded to protect? or the people lobbying for their paychecks? the government is the real traitor. by the people and for the people. does this mean anything to anybody?

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 8:16pm
  41. its because the obama agenda comes before the lives and freedoms of innocent human beings. but the media is where all the reliable info comes from apparently

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 8:19pm
  42. If Manning had stopped at Baghdad and Granai there would be reason to support him, but everything else he violated his oath of service and the terms of his clearance. He isn´t a whistle blower, nor a hero, but he has proven he can´t be trusted. As a gay man who has been out for 32 years and a veteran he isn´t a brother in arms or in the struggle for gay rights.

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 8:23pm
  43. “gay men have to sit on the back of the bus” everybody loses their shit. ” gay man speaks out against the horrors of a tyranical government and faces decades in prison for doing whats right” nobody gives two shits

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 8:23pm
  44. How about you look at it from a different angle. Even if what he did was justified, he was still convicted of six counts of espionage. They probably aren´t supporting him because he´s a convicted criminal. You´re right- a person who is found guilty of crimes against this country ISN´T going to be someone they want to promote as a “poster-boy”. They want to promote an image of normality and achievement- NOT criminal conviction. Sorry, but it´s true :/

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 8:28pm
  45. Yep. I didn´t see PFLAG or GLSEN outside his trial, I saw Code Pink. Gonna stick with my peace sisters from now on, because I know who will really have my back when stuff goes down.

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 8:34pm
  46. so by informing the people hes sworn to protect, and who hes fighting for. hes a traitor? to whom? oh the obama administration. yea he has to go to prison for letting out their dirty little secrets. facepalm

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 8:35pm
  47. And to the people who say there was “no reason” for gay groups to get involved: the first Gay Liberation Parade on Christopher Street ended at a Women´s prison with a call to release some Black Panthers who´d been imprisoned. Learn your history.

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 8:37pm
  48. I don´t see why so many people are trying to turn this into a “gay” issue. As a gay man, that´s insulting to me. Nothing that Manning did had anything to do with him being gay. His treatment, bad or good, isn´t relevant to his sexual orientation, nothing about this case has anything to do with gay rights, it just happens to be that a man who is gay did something illegal (and yes part of what he did was illegal even if some of it falls under a whistle-blower law). We didn´t turn it into a Hispanic rights issue when George Zimmerman murdered Trayvon Martin, we didn´t turn it into a white issue when George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, et al started an illegal war and cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of people… those were issues where someone just happened to be Hispanic or white and did something wrong. If anything, Bradley Manning´s treatment, not his conviction, per se, but his treatment during the years that built up to his court martial, should be focused on by HUMAN rights groups. Gay rights groups, by definition, are focused on gay rights issues, not issues where someone who happens to be gay is going through something for reasons totally separate from being gay. IF Manning was being railroaded for being gay, that´s another story, but no one is making that argument (although I wouldn´t put it past some people to try to make it now that it´s been brought up like I have just done). I´m not going to say that Manning is a traitor, but I´m not going to call him an outright hero either. The Baghdad airstrike needed to be made public. Stuff like that is horrendous. THAT was an act of a whistle-blower. The release of tons of diplomatic cables, State Department profiles on foreign officials, etc was not a whistle-blower act. That was something he didn´t need to take, didn´t help anyone, didn´t reveal anything illegal by the government, was solely to give Wikileaks more “cred” in some foolish people´s eyes. My stand is that he shouldn´t be prosecuted/persecuted for releasing actual illegality by the government, but he should accept the consequences of releasing things that he had no authorization to release if those things had nothing to do with illegality, and he released A LOT that wasn´t illegal government activity.

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 8:39pm
  49. Why should they? THey are about sustaining their sponsors wishes, and the leaders fat checks. An actual gay person is beneath their care. It is worse, since Pvt. Bradley is rumored to be trans* which, as we all know, Gay Inc. Hates like I hate communists.

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 8:41pm
  50. WHY should these LGBTQ organizations get involved with him when the issue has absolutely NOTHING to do with LGBTQ issues? This comment by Brian above says it all: “The Bradley Manning issue is NOT an LGBT issue….just like if Bradley was a woman, this would not be a women´s issue.”

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 8:47pm
  51. All you supporters of this dead Republic? You´re a bunch of idiots. Manning is a hero. Perhaps it´s time for our soldiers to lay down their weapons and quit aiding and abetting the enemy I know as the United States Government.

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 8:49pm
  52. I AM SO FUCKING TIRED OF HEARING, essentially, MY COUNTRY RIGHT OR WRONG, BUT MY COUNTRY. This country has changed… and it´s becoming more difficult to bring Wrong doing BUREAUCRATS to justice. There are simply ´too many cover ups´ protecting the holier-than-thou types within government.

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 9:31pm
  53. Just because a person is gay, or an particular group is a “gay” organization doesn´t make them any better or less about politics and image than anyone else? Manning isn´t what the groups that claim to represent the entire gay community want to promote a gay man as being. He doesn´t fit the stereotypes that we often perpetuate ourselves. I am not saying that gay organizations do not play a valuable role in gay equality in this nation, I am saying they are as much about money,power,influence,image and political correctness as any other organization. Now, opinions of Manning´s actions and his punishment are a matter of personal belief,and a matter of law, I am not arguing that.

    Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 9:40pm
  54. Not EVERYTHING is a “gay” issue, ya know, so stop trying to turn this into one. He´s gay, so what? What, exactly does it have to do with what he did?

    Posted on Monday, August 5, 2013 at 12:01am
  55. I have been saying this right along. His sexuality–whatever it is–& the kid doesn´t know if he´s animal vegetable or mineral let alone Gay,bi, Trans…has NOTHING to do w/what he did–violated US MILITARY LAW.

    Posted on Monday, August 5, 2013 at 2:26am