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California Military Recruiters Banished From San Francisco Pride

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) -- Pride Weekend events will fill up Civic Center Plaza in front of San Francisco City Hall at the end of the month. Dozens of organizations will set up booths and hand out information about what they do. But this year there will be no National Guard and no California military presence -- they've been banned by the Pride committee.

Matthew Reece, a staff sergeant with the California State Military Reserve was especially disappointed.

"To hear that we were not allowed to come this year was certainly a shock to us and quite upsetting, too coming from my standpoint being a gay man openly serving in the California State Military Reserve," he told KPIX 5.

The California State Military Reserve backs up the National Guard during natural disasters. This year both the National Guard and the Military Reserve were told to stay away from San Francisco Pride events.

"We find this to be really particularly disturbing because only LGBT people in the city of San Francisco are being affected by this," lamented Fred Schein, president of the San Francisco Log Cabin Republicans. "LGBT people around the state have full access and are welcoming these recruiters but San Francisco is being denied that option," he said.

Reece confirmed that National Guard and the State Military Reserve were welcomed at Pride events in Los Angeles and San Diego but not here.

KPIX efforts to contact people at Pride by phone through e-mail and in person proved fruitless but Pride leaders have been quoted as saying part of the reason behind their ban is because the U.S. military doesn't allow transgender people to serve openly.

Sgt. Reece thinks that's unfair. "That doesn't hold any water for the California State Military Reserve. We're recruiting our first transgender service member -- our first 'out' transgender service member, I should say -- into the CSMR in the next months," he said.

There will be one military angle to San Francisco's Pride weekend. Bradley Manning -- now known as Chelsea -- has been named honorary Grand Marshal. Manning admitted to leaking military documents to WikiLeaks while in the Army and has been sentenced to 35 years in prison after being convicted of espionage.

According to Fred Schein, Manning is unworthy of the Grand Marshal title.

"Chelsea Manning put many American lives in jeopardy in Iraq and in Afghanistan and perhaps many other places in the world through the information that was released," Schein said.

This year, San Francisco's Pride weekend is June 28, 29.

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