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Friday, December 31, 2010

Apple Rejects ’Anti-Gay’ App Once Again

By Killian Melloy -

Apple has once again rejected an app from an anti-gay Christian group on the grounds that it is "objectionable and potentially harmful to others," according to a posting at GLAAD’s website.

Though Apple had initially approved the app in October, a subsequent outcry from gay organizations led to its removal the following month. The app offered a quiz that rewarded conservative, "right" responses to questions about homosexuality and abortion, and allowed users to add their name to the document with which the app was affiliated, the so-called "Manhattan Declaration."

The document runs to 4,700 words, and was presented at a media conference on Nov. 20, 2009. The Manhattan Declaration purports to trace a Christian tradition of defending "the sanctity of life" and "traditional marriage" through the ages, and makes the claim that Christianity laid the groundwork for democracy and equality for all before the law. Anti-gay groups such as Focus on the Family embraced the manifesto and encouraged their adherents to put their names to it.

But the declaration also raised hackles. The text claims that the push for equal marriage rights for gay and lesbian families is nothing more than an attempt to "redefine" marriage to suit "fashionable ideologies." The Manhattan Declaration goes on to "affirm... marriage as a conjugal union of man and woman, ordained by God from the creation, and historically understood by believers and non-believers alike, to be the most basic institution in society." An online petition organized by gathered thousands of signatures within a week; Apple responded by removing the app.

GLBT equality group the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) noted that the app went beyond an implicit assumption that same-sex families were somehow undeserving of the "dignity" that the Manhattan Declaration indicated should be reserved solely for mixed-gender couples. "The app features an electronic version of a declaration, through which users can pledge to make whatever sacrifices are required’ to oppose marriage equality, even, presumably, if that means breaking the law" in asking users not to "bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth," a Dec. 15 GLAAD release said.

"The ’Manhattan Declaration’ calls gay and lesbian couples ’immoral,’ it calls the recognition of their relationships ’false and destructive,’ and claims that allowing them to be married will lead to ’genuine social harms,’ " the GLAAD release noted. "The original application also contained a quiz in which the ’right’ answers were those that oppose equality for gay and lesbian people.

"This application fuels a climate in which gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people are put in harm’s way," the GLAAD release went on. "Apple did the right thing in recognizing that this application violates the company’s guidelines."

Noting that the quiz had been stripped out of the revised app that was re-submitted to Apple for approval, GLAAD went on to say that, "simply removing the quiz does nothing to address the underlying problem, which is that this application tells people to pledge to oppose equality for gay and lesbian couples."

Apple evidently agreed, declining the app once again and saying that it could potentially "expose a group to harm."

"This application fuels a climate in which gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people are put in harm’s way," GLAAD stated when the app was dropped. "Apple did the right thing in recognizing that this application violates the company’s guidelines."

In the wake Apple’s decision to remove the app, the Mormon Church-affiliated anti-gay organization the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) produced an ad accusing Apple founder Steve Jobs of anti-Christian censorship. NOM was a key player in promoting Proposition 8 in 2008 and has, since then, spent massive amounts of money across the nation to defeat or overturn marriage equality in the handful of states where it has been (or might be) approved.

The app’s backers condemned Apple anew following the app’s second rejection, noted JoeMyGod in a Dec. 30 posting that quoted text from

"Inasmuch as the Manhattan Declaration simply reaffirms the moral teachings of our Christian faith on the sanctity of human life, marriage and sexual morality, and religious freedom and the rights of conscience, Apple’s statement amounts to the charge that our faith is ’potentially harmful to others,’ " the site told readers.

"It is difficult to see how this is anything other than a statement of animus by a major American corporation against the beliefs of millions of Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox citizens," the text went on. "It is our sincere hope that Apple will draw back from this divisive and deeply offensive position. The corporation’s leaders must be made to understand that they do the country no good service in capitulating to efforts to stigmatize, marginalize or defame people on one side or the other in important moral debates."

Text at also claims, "Nearly 500,000 Christians have signed the Manhattan Declaration."

"The Manhattan Declaration asks its signees to vow to civilly disobey any law that grants LGBT rights," noted JoeMyGod. "Its authors say they will make a third run at Apple in the new year. Oh, and they’ll need you to send them LOTS OF MONEY for that."
Kilian Melloy reviews media, conducts interviews, and writes commentary for EDGEBoston, where he also serves as Assistant Arts Editor.

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