Apple Embroiled in Huge Gay Rights Fight

Apple is caught in the crossfire between opponents and supporters of an iPhone game that can only be "won" by signaling opposition to gay and abortion rights. Apple approved the app, then pulled it. Now comes the furious lobbying.

The fight over the "Manhattan Declaration" app, which asks users to pledge not to "bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships" like gay and lesbian ones, began when Apple approved the app for inclusion in its store earlier this year. The battle continued when the company removed the app over the Thanksgiving holiday under pressure from gay rights groups. Now the original authors plan to resubmit the app without the its featured quiz, which you could only pass by submitting "correct" anti-gay answers. GLAAD, meanwhile, is gathering signatures to pressure Apple to reject the revised app.

Apple will inevitably piss off some significant group of customers here, but the company only has itself to blame, since it eagerly embraced morality as a test for inclusion in the app store. CEO Steve Jobs designated the store as a place with "freedom from porn" and from risqué fashion spreads, illustrated gay literature, political caricature and other controversial content.

Now every time Apple approves an app, it implies moral endorsement of the content of that app. Rejections likewise carry an implied moral condemnation. The right answer here is for Apple to support gay rights, but an even better answer would be if Apple could say it supports free speech and argument in the app store within the boundaries of the law and is not going to intervene in disputes over morality. Of course that option is off the table now due to Apple's track record; it would be an obviously false statement.

Have fun playing moral traffic cop, Apple. In the meantime we'll just sit here and wait for Dan Savage to turn the phrase "Manhattan Declaration" into code for some sort of gay sex practice. Blowjobs on the subway, maybe?