San Francisco LGBT Pride Parade Bans Military Recruiters

Dustin Siggins Contributor
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The 44th Annual San Francisco LGBT Pride Parade and Celebration is refusing to allow military recruiters anywhere near the festivities.

Because of the National Guard’s policy against openly transgendered service members, the military has been banned from participating by a vote of the “Pride Board.” This is a reversal from last year, when the Guard was permitted to recruit following President Barack Obama’s repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” The board also said that its vote was taken in light of what it considered an inadequate response to sexual assaults in the U.S. armed forces.

Lt. Col. Darrin Bender of the California Military Department (CMD) said in a statement to LifeSiteNews that he believes “that the decision by the SF Pride Board to ban [the State Military Reserve] is hypocritical and an anti-military bias.” According to Bender, the CMD consists of the state’s National Guard and the State Military Reserve (SMR). The SMR “allows openly transgender men and women to serve in uniform,” he said.

Bender said that the military often appears at large events like the Pride Parade because “these venues are more effective for engagement and providing information about the Guard and SMR to a large number of people.” It also provides the opportunity “to demonstrate to the soldiers and Airmen within the [CMD] that the leadership of the department supports the integration of members of the LGBT community into the ranks.”

Despite the potential for leads, however, Bender told The Daily Caller that “National Guard and SMR recruiters do not typically get more than a handful of significant leads during large events like Pride (or NASCAR events, etc). Instead, the recruiters focus on engaging and informing the people they meet at these events to improve public knowledge about our organization.”

He said that “increased public knowledge leads to word-of-mouth referrals and a better understanding of what the Military Department does to support the state of California.”

There is one advantage to attending Pride events, though — Bender says they provide “the California National Guard the unique opportunity to engage veterans who were discharged under “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” and may be considering reinstatement.”

While the military isn’t allowed at the 2014 parade, convicted spy Bradley Manning — now known as “Chelsea” Manning after claiming to be a transgendered person — is being honored as a “Honorary Grand Marshal.” Manning is serving 35 years in prison for leaking classified information to WikiLeaks while a member of the armed services.

In 2013, plans to honor Manning were dropped, causing internal conflict among organizers and marchers. Organizers have apologized for not honoring Manning, and a representative for Manning will be at the March in his place.

Also honored at the parade will be Jewlyes Gutierrez, who made national headlines last year after the transgendered teenage boy struck a girl he said threw gum at him. Gutierrez, who said he was harassed and bullied for two years, was charged with battery. Those charges were dropped in May after Gutierrez went through court-ordered restorative justice that included counseling and mediation.

Gutierrez will be one of several people honored as a “Community Grand Marshal” at the parade.

Finally, controversial pro-family advocate Scott Lively is receiving the “Pink Brick Award,” which organizers say is “a symbol of the first brick hurled at the Stonewall Riots in 1969.” The award is given “to highlight an individual or organization that has done significant harm to the LGBT community.” Lively was chosen by a public vote.

According to Parade organizers, citing the Southern Poverty Law Center, “Lively’s call for the criminalization of ‘the public advocacy of homosexuality’ has included his influence on the engineering of the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Act (2014).” The referenced bill originally called for the death penalty for homosexuals, but was changed to life imprisonment as punishment.

According to Lively, however, the organizers are inaccurately representing his position on the Ugandan bill. He told TheDC that “while I recognize the right of the democratically-elected government of Uganda to set its own laws and policies, I do not support the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Law as written, even after the removal of the death penalty provision, and did not advocate for it in Uganda.”

“I have always said that it is too harsh. My [2010] letter to the Ugandan Parliament and their reply is published here.”

Lively is also accused of backing last year’s law in Russia that bans providing what Lively calls “homosexual propaganda” to minors. He says that he “take[s] a small share of credit for inspiring that law by advocating for it,” but has written that the law is “very reasonable” because it “preserves the right to privacy and the personal freedoms of adult homosexuals.”

Lively says there is “irony” in “homosexuals awarding me the ‘Pink Brick Award’ since I have never used a weapon of violence against them, but they have used it against me.” He says that a brick was thrown through the door of Christian Liberty Academy as a way of protesting his speech in 2011. Lively says he has faced harassment and death threats for a quarter-century.

Organizers of the Pride Parade did not return TheDC’s request for comment.