The American Civil Liberties Union along with 16 other LGBT organizations sent a letter to President Obama on Monday, asking him to commute Chelsea Manning’s prison sentence.
“Ms. Manning is the longest serving whistleblower in the history of the United States.”
Manning is a United States Army soldier who was convicted by court-martial in 2013 for violating the Espionage Act after she disclosed over 700,000 classified and sensitive military documents to WikiLeaks. She is currently serving her 7th year of a 35-year sentence while being forced to serve her time in an all-male prison, despite coming out as transgender a day after her sentencing.
“Ms. Manning is the longest serving whistleblower in the history of the United States. Granting her clemency petition will give Ms. Manning a first chance to live a real, meaningful life as the person she was born to be,” said ACLU Legislative Representative Ian Thompson. The letter states that Manning disclosed the information with the intention of “raising public awareness about issues she found concerning, including the impact of war on innocent civilians.”
The letter also states that Manning has been subjected to long periods of solitary confinement including a period when she attempted suicide, and that she has been denied necessary medical treatment related to her gender dysphoria. “While the armed forces have finally opened the door to transgender men and women who wish to serve, the government has continually fought Ms. Manning’s efforts to be treated with basic dignity,” the letter also states.
Though the letter acknowledges the fact that the group has differing opinions regarding Manning’s actions, they are united in their support for her clemency petition. Some transgender military veterans such as Kristin Beck have been outspoken in condemning Manning’s actions, however they are supportive of her right to transition.
The following groups signed the letter:
American Civil Liberties Union
Family Equality Council
GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders
League of United Latin American Citizens
Los Angeles LGBT Center
National Black Justice Coalition
National Center for Lesbian Rights
National LGBTQ Task Force
National Organization for Women
Pride at Work
Transgender Law Center