Have Gay Rights Groups Abandoned Bradley Manning?
By Christopher Carbone / theguardian.com

Mainstream LGBT rights groups like Human Rights Campaign and GLAAD have stayed quiet about Manning

Gay 25-year-old US 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. His verdict is expected today.

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 US have stayed quiet about Manning, his reprehensible treatment in custody and his trial. Why has Manning, whose revelations about the US 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 $32.7m 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 DC and Booz Allen Hamilton, a corporate partner for the national event, as well as Northrop Grumman a sponsor of their Los Angeles gala.

US government contracts account for at least 85% of Lockheed Martin'swork, 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 US 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 US 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?

• This commentary was amended on 30 July 2013 to clarify that Goldman Sachs was a patron of GLAAD's media awards.

3.5 ·
What's Next
Trending Today
Noam Chomsky Has 'Never Seen Anything Like This'
Chris Hedges · 12,400 views today · Noam Chomsky is America’s greatest intellectual. His massive body of work, which includes nearly 100 books, has for decades deflated and exposed the lies of the power elite...
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain · 8,342 views today · Well I’m in the working world again. I’ve found myself a well-paying gig in the engineering industry, and life finally feels like it’s returning to normal after my nine months...
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 3,523 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
What Makes Call-Out Culture So Toxic
Asam Ahmad · 1,872 views today · Call-out culture refers to the tendency among progressives, radicals, activists, and community organizers to publicly name instances or patterns of oppressive behaviour and...
Donald Trump Is the Mirror and Hillary Clinton Is the Mask
Chris Agnos · 1,726 views today · Disclaimer: I do not support Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton for president. I think the scope of the political debate is far too narrow for the kinds of actions that need to...
HyperNormalisation (2016)
161 min · 1,308 views today · We live in a time of great uncertainty and confusion. Events keep happening that seem inexplicable and out of control. Donald Trump, Brexit, the War in Syria, the endless...
Mark Corske's Engines of Domination (2014)
60 min · 1,073 views today · Political power -- armed central authority, with states and war -- is it part of human nature? Is it necessary for human communities? Or is it a tool that ruling elites use to...
10 Quotes From an Oglala Lakota Chief That Will Make You Question Everything About Our Society
Wisdom Pills · 858 views today · Luther Standing Bear was an Oglala Lakota Sioux Chief who, among a few rare others such as Charles Eastman, Black Elk and Gertrude Bonnin occupied the rift between the way of...
The White Man in That Photo
Riccardo Gazzaniga · 799 views today · Sometimes photographs deceive. Take this one, for example. It represents John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s rebellious gesture the day they won medals for the 200 meters at the...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 741 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
Schooling the World (2010)
66 min · 658 views today · If you wanted to change an ancient culture in a generation, how would you do it? You would change the way it educates its children. The U.S. Government knew this in the 19th...
Donald and Hobbes Is Genius
Various · 578 views today · Some clever folk have been replacing precocious 6-year-old Calvin, from the Calvin and Hobbes comic strips, with Donald Trump and the results are, well, take a look...
Gil Scott-Heron Deconstructs Colonialism and Black History in His Own Unique Style
3 min · 502 views today · His-Story: I was wondering about our yesterdays, and starting searching through the rubble and to say the very least, somebody went to a hell of a lot of trouble to make sure...
Planet Earth II Could Be Best Nature Doc Ever Made
3 min · 399 views today · 10 years ago Planet Earth changed our view of the world. Now we take you closer than ever before. This is life in all its wonder. This is Planet Earth II. A decade ago, the...
The Top 100 Documentaries We Can Use to Change the World
Films For Action · 397 views today · A more beautiful, just and sustainable world is possible. Take this library and use it to inspire global change!
Anarchists - What We Stand For
unknown · 320 views today · Anarchism : The word “anarchy” comes from Greek and means “no rulers”. As a political philosophy, anarchism is based on the idea that organization does not require rulers—that...
For Those Who Don't Want to Vote for the Lesser of Two Evils
Peter White · 294 views today · Ranked-choice voting is catching on, and Maine might become the first state to help citizens vote for candidates they actually want.
Are You Lost in the World Like Me?
3 min · 280 views today · Animated film by Steve Cutts for 'Are You Lost In The World Like Me?', taken from These Systems Are Failing- the debut album from Moby & The Void Pacific Choir. 
World's Low-Cost Economy Built on the Backs of 46 Million Modern Day Slaves
Deirdre Fulton · 270 views today · 'Business leaders who refuse to look into the realities of their own supply chains are misguided and irresponsible.'
Life in Occupied Palestine (2009)
59 min · 229 views today · Anna Baltzer, a Jewish American, gives her eyewitness perspectives on average citizens living in occupied Palestine. Baltzer spent 5 months in the West Bank working with the...
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
Have Gay Rights Groups Abandoned Bradley Manning?