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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Manhattan Declaration: Harmful and Objectionable

By Michael A. Jones -

The Manhattan Declaration has been around for a little more than a year now, serving as a cattle call for right-wing activists who think the most important issue facing the world is the "threat" of same-sex couples getting married and starting families. It's a sign-on statement where those who oppose homosexuality can put their names down on paper, and pledge to break laws that give rights to same-sex couples.
At the time of its launch, Chuck Colson (the Watergate felon turned religious activist who served as one of the Declaration's co-founders) said that he hoped the Declaration would be a kinder, gentler form of expressing displeasure at the idea of same-sex relationships. It's why the Declaration refrains from calling gay people derogatory slurs outright, and instead just refers to same-sex relationships as "immoral sexual partnerships" that "erode the institution of marriage."
So much for that whole kinder and gentler bit.
The Manhattan Declaration had created an iPhone app to champion their anti-gay beliefs, which included a poll that told people who support marriage equality that they're "wrong," and linking to the text of the Declaration. Over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, after nearly 8,000 members emailed the company in outrage, Apple pulled that app, saying that it contained offensive material.
Well, hell hath no fury like a group of anti-gay activists who feel like their megaphone for hatred has been silenced. Organizers of the Manhattan Declaration blasted Apple, going so far as to call Steve Jobs (the company's head honcho) a part of the "thought police." They decided to resubmit a version of their iPhone app, sans poll but still including the homophobic rhetoric of the actual Declaration itself.
Apple's response? Essentially, No thanks, this is still quite offensive.
Last week Apple told the creators of the Manhattan Declaration that their retooled app wasn't acceptable either.
"Apple is telling us that the apps' content is considered 'likely to expose a group to harm' and 'to be objectionable and potentially harmful to others,'" Declaration organizers told the Christian Post.
That's not necessarily a difficult leap for Apple to make. Signers of the Declaration include a number of officially-dubbed hate groups, including representatives from the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and the Family Research Council (FRC). Their work, at least as defined by groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center, is tantamount to exposing groups to harm, particularly LGBT people who continue to bear the brunt of NOM's and FRC's actions.
Organizers with the Manhattan Declaration say that they'll now take their case to the Apple app review board next month. They see this as a full-on assault on Christianity. But of course, they fail to indicate that they represent only one small segment of Christianity, and that there are plenty of other religious folks who don't view LGBT people with as much disdain and disgust as the folks behind the Manhattan Declaration.
For Apple, the message seems pretty clear: if you believe that same-sex relationships are "immoral sexual partnerships" or that LGBT people are an assault on the institution of marriage, feel free to shout that from your pulpits all you want. But Apple products aren't going to be a vehicle for that type of hatred.


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