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Gay soldier accused of leaking classified files

Did anger over ‘Don’t Ask’ motivate Manning to act?



Reports that a U.S. Army intelligence analyst who’s accused of leaking classified information is gay have raised questions about whether a resentment of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” could have motivated his alleged crime.

Pfc. Bradley Manning, 22, is the prime suspect in the investigation of leaked video footage showing a U.S. Apache helicopter strike in Baghdad that killed 12 civilians, including employees of a Reuters news agency.

Manning allegedly gave the footage to WikiLeaks, a whistle-blowing website devoted to disclosing the secrets of governments and corporations.

In an instant message conversation with a friend, Manning reportedly said he was responsible for the leak as well as another video showing a 2009 Garani air strike in Afghanistan. He also reportedly claimed to have 260,000 classified U.S. diplomatic cables that would reveal the inner workings of U.S. embassies.

“Hillary Clinton, and several thousand diplomats around the world are going to have a heart attack when they wake up one morning, and find an entire repository of classified foreign policy is available, in searchable format, to the public,” Manning said in the conversation, according to

Additionally, Manning is a person of interest in an investigation seeking to determine the source of thousands of secret documents leaked related to the Afghanistan war. But as of earlier this week, Manning reportedly hadn’t been formally named as a suspect in the matter.

The charges against Manning are serious. Lt. Col. Rene White, a Pentagon spokesperson, said Manning is under investigation “for allegedly improperly downloading, storing and disclosing to unauthorized third parties classified or sensitive [U.S. government] documents or media.”

White said Manning is being held in the brig at the U.S. Marine Corps base in Quantico, Va.

“Manning will remain in pre-trial confinement as the Army continues its investigation,” White said. “We don’t know if Pfc. Manning is the source of the recently leaked documents. We are assessing them now to determine the potential damage to lives, sources and methods and national security.”

Courtney Whittmann, a spokesperson for U.S. Army Military District of Washington, said Manning could face up to 52 years in prison and a dishonorable discharge as well as forfeiture of all pay and allowances. She said the court of his appearance is yet to be determined.

As this investigation is underway, a report from British media describing Manning as gay is raising questions about whether discontent with “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” contributed to his alleged decision to leak the classified material.

The Daily Telegraph reported that Manning is openly gay and had several postings on his Facebook page that he was unhappy with the military and was going through relationship troubles with a same-sex partner.

At the beginning of May, Manning reportedly wrote he was “livid” after being “lectured by ex-boyfriend,” then later posted that he was “not a piece of equipment” and was “beyond frustrated with people and society at large.”

In the same month, when he was serving at a U.S. military base near Baghdad, Manning reportedly changed his status to: “Bradley Manning is now left with the sinking feeling that he doesn’t have anything left.”

The publicly viewable portion of his Facebook profile this week listed the Washington Blade as among his favorite pages as well as several other LGBT-related pages, including the Human Rights Campaign, gay Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and “REPEAL THE BAN — End ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’”

After Window Media closed the Blade late last year, Manning donated $120 to a “Save the Blade” initiative that helped re-launch the paper, according to Blade records.

Manning has also been seen in gay venues in D.C. and was present at the National Stonewall Democrats’ Capital Champions event in 2009.

Jon Hoadley, a gay activist and former Stonewall Democrats president, is among those who know Manning. Still, Hoadley said he said he didn’t know Manning well and hasn’t seen him in more than a year.

“Other [than] through some Stonewall events and stuff like that — and through a few friends — I didn’t know him really well,” Hoadley said.

Whittmann, the Army military district of Washington spokesperson, said she didn’t immediately know whether “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was a factor in the investigation of Manning, but said she would look to find more information on the matter.

The co-director of OutServe, an organization for LGBT active duty service members, said he was skeptical that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” played a role in Manning’s alleged decision to leak classified information.

OutServe’s co-director, who’s adopted the alias J.D. Smith to avoid being outed under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” said he didn’t think Manning’s discontent with the law led him to his alleged decision to leak classified information.

“From what I’ve being reading on this situation, he had a lot of issues that he was dealing with — not just about his homosexuality,” said Smith, who noted OutServe has had no contact with Manning. “We don’t know all the factors. All the details haven’t come out to the public yet.”

The Family Research Council has seized on reports that Manning is gay to drum up opposition to repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

In an e-mail blast, Tony Perkins, president of FRC, called Manning an “extreme homosexual activist” and said his “fury over the services’ homosexual policy may have led him to publicize highly classified documents about the wars.”

“Unfortunately for all of us, Manning’s betrayal painfully confirms what groups like FRC have argued all along: the instability of the homosexual lifestyle is a detriment to military readiness,” Perkins wrote.

John Aravosis, a gay D.C.-based blogger, responded to the FRC mailing on his website,, calling it evidence of the continued lies and distortion that FRC puts forth on LGBT issues.

“FRC cites the Telegraph, and claims that the Telegraph says Manning has an ‘extensive history’ of campaigning for gay rights,” Aravosis wrote. “In fact, the Telegraph article mentions that Manning once showed up at a single gay rights rally — that’s it. How is that an ‘extensive’ history as an ‘extreme’ gay activist? It’s not.”

Aravosis also disputed the notion that evidence exists showing that anger over “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” led Manning to leak classified information.

“Finally, there’s nothing, anywhere, to suggest that Manning had any ‘fury’ over [‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’], or that, even if he did, such fury led him to leak the documents,” Aravosis said. “Where did FRC come up with it?”

Smith said FRC’s decision to try to solicit funds over the charges against Manning is “pretty awful.”

“There are plenty of instances where straight soldiers have done things as well,” Smith said. “And I don’t think they should [be] playing this as homosexual treason at all. I think that we need to be very careful in how this is portrayed.”


The White House

Biden, Harris, deliver remarks for White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention

Pulse survivor Brandon Wolf among those who spoke



President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris listen as U.S. Rep. Maxwell Alejandro Frost (D-Fla.) addresses an audience in the Rose Garden including federal, state and local officials, survivors and family members, and gun violence prevention advocates on Sept. 22, 2023. (Photo courtesy of Brandon Wolf)

President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and U.S. Rep. Maxwell Frost (D-Fla.) addressed an audience from the Rose Garden of the White House on Friday to honor the establishment of a first-ever White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention.

In a press release Thursday announcing the move, the administration said its aim is to implement and expand the provisions of last year’s Bipartisan Safer Communities Act along with those contained in the president’s executive orders targeting issues of gun violence.

Additionally, Biden explained in his remarks, the office will coordinate more support for survivors, families and communities, including mental health services and financial aid; identify new avenues for executive action; and “expand our coalition of partners in states and cities across America” given the need for legislative solutions on the local and state level.

Harris, who will oversee the office, pledged to “use the full power of the federal government to strengthen the coalition of survivors and advocates and students and teachers and elected leaders to save lives and fight for the right of all people to be safe from fear and to be able to live a life where they understand that they are supported in that desire and that right.”

The vice president noted her close experiences with the devastating consequences of gun violence in her work as a federal prosecutor, San Francisco district attorney, California attorney general and in her current role.

Biden’s comments also included highlights of his administration’s accomplishments combatting gun violence and a call to action for Congress to do more. “It’s time again to ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines,” he told lawmakers.

The president also credited the the work of advocates including those who were gathered at the White House on Friday: “all of you here today, all across the country, survivors, families, advocates — especially young people who demand our nation do better to protect all; who protested, organized, voted, and ran for office, and, yes, marched for their lives.”

Taking the stage before introducing Biden, Frost noted that “Right before I was elected to Congress, I served as the national organizing director for March for Our Lives, a movement that inspired young people across the nation to demand safe communities.”

“The president understands that this issue especially for young people, especially for marginalized communities, is a matter of survival,” the congressman said. And the formation of this office, “comes from Pulse to Parkland,” he said, adding, “we fight because we love.”

Human Rights Campaign National Press Secretary Brandon Wolf, a survivor of the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting, which was America’s second deadliest mass shooting and the deadliest against the LGBTQ community, shared a comment with the Washington Blade after Friday’s ceremony:

“Seven years ago, when my best friends and 47 others were murdered at our safe place — Pulse Nightclub — we promised to honor them with action. This is what that looks like. This deep investment in the fight to end gun violence matters, and I cannot wait to see Vice President Harris lead these efforts. We can blaze the path toward a future free of gun violence. And today marked an important step in that direction.”

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U.S. Federal Courts

Federal judge: drag is ‘vulgar and lewd,’ ‘sexualized conduct’

Ruling ‘bristles with hostility toward LGBTQ people’



J. Marvin Jones Federal Building, U.S. Courthouse in Amarillo, Texas (Photo: Library of Congress)

Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas issued a ruling Thursday denying relief to a group of university students who sought to host a drag show over the objections of their school’s president.

A Trump appointed jurist with deep ties to anti-LGBTQ and anti-abortion conservative legal activists, Kacsmaryk argued that drag performances probably do not constitute speech protected by the First Amendment.

As Slate Senior Writer Mark Joseph Stern wrote on X, this conclusion “conflicts with decisions from Texas, Florida, Tennessee and Montana which held that drag is constitutionally protected expression.”

“It also bristles with undisguised hostility toward LGBTQ people,” he added.

Kacsmaryk’s 26-page decision describes drag performances as lewd and licentious, obscene and sexually prurient, despite arguments the plaintiffs had presented about the social, political, and artistic merit of this art form.

As the Human Rights Campaign recently wrote, “drag artists and the spaces that host their performances have long served as a communal environment for queer expression.”

The group added, “It is a form of art and entertainment, but, historically, the performances haven’t only served to entertain, but also to truly advance the empowerment and visibility of LGBTQ+ people.”

Nevertheless, anti-LGBTQ conservative activists and organizations have perpetuated conspiracy theories about members of the community targeting children for sexual abuse including by bringing them to drag performances.

Among these is a group with ties to the Proud Boys that was cited by Kacsmaryk in his ruling: Gays Against Groomers, an anti-LGBTQ and anti-transgender extremist group, according to the Anti-Defamation League and Southern Poverty Law Center.

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The White House

Harris to oversee White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention

Goal is to implement and expand upon legislation, executive actions



U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, September 2023. (Official White House photograph by Lawrence Jackson)

The White House announced Thursday evening that President Joe Biden on Friday will establish the first-ever White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention, to be overseen by Vice President Kamala Harris.

The office will focus on implementing and expanding upon executive and legislative actions, including the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, “to reduce gun violence, which has ravaged communities across the country.”

Serving under Harris will be Stefanie Feldman, “a longtime policy advisor to President Biden on gun violence prevention,” and “leading gun violence prevention advocates Greg Jackson and Rob Wilcox.”

“Every time I’ve met with families impacted by gun violence as they mourn their loved ones, and I’ve met with so many throughout the country, they all have the same message for their elected officials: ‘do something,'” Biden said in a statement.

The president noted his signing of last year’s bipartisan gun violence prevention law, a flagship legislative accomplishment for the administration, along with his issuance of more executive actions than any president in history to address this problem.

Calling these “just the first steps,” Biden said the establishment of the White House Office on Gun Violence Prevention will “build upon these measures and keep Americans safe.”

He also urged Congress to do more by passing legislation requiring universal background checks, and baning assault weapons and high capacity magazines.

In a statement, Harris said, “This epidemic of gun violence requires urgent leadership to end the fear and trauma that Americans experience every day.”

“The new Office of Gun Violence Prevention will play a critical role in implementing President Biden’s and my efforts to reduce violence to the fullest extent under the law,” she said, “while also engaging and encouraging Congressional leaders, state and local leaders, and advocates to come together to build upon the meaningful progress that we have made to save lives.”

“Our promise to the American people is this: we will not stop working to end the epidemic of gun violence in every community, because we do not have a moment, nor a life to spare,” the vice president said.

Then Vice President Biden hugs Brandon J. Wolf as he talks with family members of the victims and survivors in the June 12th mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida, June 16, 2016.
Wolf, a Pulse survivor, was recently appointed National Press Secretary of the Human Rights Campaign.
(Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)
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