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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Apple: Stand Strong Against Homophobia and Anti-Gay Discrimination

By Michael A. Jones -

Heard of the Manhattan Declaration? It's a document and campaign started by Watergate felon Chuck Colson to organize conservative religious leaders in opposition to same-sex marriage. Signers of the declaration, which include prominent conservatives from a broad swath of faiths, say that while they don't intend to inflict violence on LGBT people, they firmly believe that same-sex relationships are "sexually immoral," and that anti-gay activists ought to break laws, if necessary, to keep gays and lesbians from marrying.
Naturally, many people find the premise behind the Declaration offensive. Cloaked in a mantra of "Hey, we're not for discrimination, we're just for Christian principles," the Declaration gives religious cover for the type of stigmatization and anti-gay work that continues to allow LGBT people to be fired from their jobs, denied access at hospitals to see their partners, denied the chance to share health and insurance benefits, and denied the chance to have their relationships recognized.
In November, the Manhattan Declaration even launched an iPhone app where they asked users to take a survey about same-sex marriage. If users supported same-sex marriage, they were told that they were "wrong." Users were also given access to the declaration, where again and again, the document calls same-sex relationships "immoral."
Apple initially approved the app, but after thousands of emails came in urging them to pull it, the company backtracked. Over Thanksgiving weekend, the app disappeared from the iTunes store, with a spokesperson for the company saying that indeed, the app was offensive and violated Apple's standards for acceptable apps. After all, calling an entire population of people "sexually immoral" does go against the culture that Apple has built up over the years as a company that respects and values LGBT employees and customers.
You might think the case would be closed here. Anti-gay discrimination was called out, and Apple acted appropriately. But, unfortunately, that's not the end of the story. Because religious activists, including the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and the leaders behind the Manhattan Declaration, have launched an all-out war against Apple for showing respect toward LGBT people.
NOM actually launched an ad yesterday, calling Steve Jobs (the head of Apple) a "big brother" figure who not only censored an app, but trashed Christianity in the process. They want to force Apple to allow the Manhattan Declaration app back onto iTunes, so that iPhone users can download a little piece of homophobia.
And they are not letting up.
In response, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) has launched a petition and a call to action urging Apple to stand by its decision to keep the app off of iTunes, and take a firm stand against using religion as a cloak for anti-gay sentiments.
"The 'Manhattan Declaration' asks people to vow 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.' This application 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,'" GLAAD writes. "Apple did the right thing in recognizing that these types of hurtful attitudes violate the company's developer guidelines by 'being offensive to large groups of people.'"
Both NOM and the folks behind the Manhattan Declaration would have you believe that Apple silenced the entire Christian community by removing this app. But if we're talking Christianity here, let's hold up a mirror. Because the folks at NOM and the people behind this Declaration are trying to suggest that all Christians believe that same-sex relationships are 'false and destructive,' or that homosexuality will lead to 'genuine social harms.' That's simply not true. NOM can argue that Apple is bashing Christianity until it's blue in the face, but if there's any organization or group of people who've given Christianity a sucker punch, it's folks who would paint the religion as a gaggle of homophobes. Now that's truly a disservice.
Send Apple a message, thanking them for pulling this discriminatory app from their store, and urging them not to cave in to calls to reinstate it. There are hurtful attitudes behind the Manhattan Declaration, and those sentiments don't belong at a company that truly values its LGBT employees and LGBT customers.

 petition text-
Stand Strong Against Anti-Gay Bias

Dear Apple,
I want to thank you for your decision to remove the hurtful "Manhattan Declaration" app from your online iTunes and iPhone stores. This application asks users to pledge to oppose equality for gay and lesbian couples and to not "bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships."
The application 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." Simply removing the introductory quiz does nothing to make this application more acceptable.
Your own guidelines implore you to not accept any application that is "offensive to large groups of people." I support your earlier recognition that this application violates those guidelines, and I urge you to stand by that decision.
Thank you for your time.
[Your name here]

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