• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Subscribe
  • RSS

eHarmony Goes Gay

The dating site eHarmony is now opening a separate but equal site for gays.

The Pasadena-based dating website, heavily promoted by Christian evangelical leaders when it was founded, has agreed in a civil rights settlement to give up its heterosexuals-only policy and offer same-sex matches.

EHarmony was started by psychologist Neil Clark Warren, who is known for his mild-mannered television and radio advertisements. It must not only implement the new policy by March 31 but also give the first 10,000 same-sex registrants a free six-month subscription.

“That was one of the things I asked for,” said Eric McKinley, 46, who complained to New Jersey’s Division on Civil Rights after being turned down for a subscription in 2005.

The company said that Warren was not giving interviews on the settlement. But attorney Theodore Olson, who issued a statement on the company’s behalf, made clear that it did not agree to offer gay matches willingly.  “Even though we believed that the complaint resulted from an unfair characterization of our business,” Olson said, “we ultimately decided it was best to settle this case with the attorney general since litigation outcomes can be unpredictable.”

The settlement, which did not find that EHarmony broke any laws, calls for the company to either offer the gay matches on its current venue or create a new site for them. EHarmony has opted to create a site called Compatiblepartners.net.

[...]

McKinley, who works at a nonprofit in New Jersey he declined to identify, said that he had originally heard of EHarmony through its radio ads. “You hear these wonderful people saying, ‘I met my soul mate on EHarmony.’ I thought, I could do that too,” he said. But he couldn’t. When he tried to enter the site, the pull-down menus had categories only for a man seeking a woman or a woman seeking a man. “I felt the whole range of emotions,” McKinley said. “Anger, that I was a second-class citizen.”

One understands eHarmony’s decision here.  It’s often been said of lawsuits that “the process is the punishment.”  One presumes that, as a private business, they’d be free to decide how to run it and gays are not generally regarded as a protected class.  But Olsen’s right:  One never knows how these suits will turn out and defending its interests would have cost millions.  And winning in New Jersey wouldn’t preclude suits in the other 49 states.  Or another suit in New Jersey in the future based on a slightly different legal theory.

Of course, the creation of a separate site for gays — even if it’s absolutely identical — will almost certainly lead to more suits in the future.  There’s no shortage of emotional people who feel like “second-class citizens” when confronted by websites that don’t cater to them.

As an aside, despite the framing of the LAT piece excerpted above, eHarmony isn’t a Christian dating site.  It does, however, match people for compatibility along a variety of vectors, with religious values high on the list.  Warren believes, correctly I think, that compatibility on core values is essential to sustaining a long term relationship.

UPDATEGayPatriotWest wonders when a Christian will sue JDate, “The Leading Jewish Singles Network,” and Michelle Malkin suggests, “Perhaps heterosexual men and women should start filing lawsuits against gay dating websites and undermine their business. Coerced tolerance and diversity-by-fiat cut both ways.”

I’m not a lawyer but I’m guessing eHarmony’s problem — in addition to the cost issues noted in the original post — is that it’s not explicitly a straight-only or Christian site, thus making it more difficult to argue that being forced to match same-sex couples undermined its mission.

via Memeorandum

Related Posts:

About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Houston says:

    If people want to know why traditionalists and conservatives are disgusted with the Gay “Rights” movement, it’s crap like this. This lawsuit was completely unnecessary, and done solely to disrupt someone else’s legitimate business, simply to make a point.

    “I felt like a second-class citizen” my a*s. More like, “I felt like here was another opportunity to start a fight, to poke a stick in the Conservatives’ eye.”

    Moves like this, as well as the hate-filled “protests” across the country in response to Prop.8, do more to harm the Gay “Rights” movement than anything else.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  2. [...] The Next Political Trend? The rise of the gay conservative? Read Andrew Sullivan. And if there aren’t inroads politically, the gay community has made some inroads with eHarmony. [...]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. Steve Plunk says:

    This is another example of pushing too hard. There are other dating sites that fill the need for gays so why pick on this one? As Houston says it’s merely to make a point of some sort.

    So now a business has to give up it’s successful model at the point of a lawsuit. Gay activists will never earn respect this way. In fact part of the problem with the gay rights movement is it’s demands for respect and tolerance before they have earned them. They act like spoiled children demanding mommy pay attention to them and acting out when they don’t get what they want.

    I’ve been friends with gays, hired gays, and I am related to gays. Each and every one earned my respect and did not demand it or force me to give it. These small victories like eharmony.com may seem sweet but are in reality a strategic mistake. Backlash is a bitch.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. Bithead says:

    An interesting parallel;
    In last night’s Ramble I commented on one Jarek Molski, and quoted the LA TIMES:

    The U.S. Supreme Court declined Monday to hear the case of Molski vs. Evergreen Dynasty Corp., owner of a Chinese restaurant in Solvang, Calif., in a legal Waterloo for the 38-year-old Woodland Hills man. Molski filed more than 400 suits under the Americans With Disabilities Act before a federal judge barred him from future litigation.In a highly unusual action in 2004, U.S. District Judge Edward Rafeedie, who has since died, branded Molski a “hit-and-run plaintiff,” accusing him of systematic extortion of businesses across California.

    Molski, who has used a wheelchair since a motorcycle accident two decades ago, sued restaurants, bowling alleys, wineries and other retail outlets for insufficient handicapped parking, misplaced handrails and other violations of the disabilities act, demanding that business owners be fined $4,000 for every day their facilities failed to meet exacting federal standards.

    I said of all that:

    Now, when the ADA first came out, it was clearly going to build into something along these lines. Then again, so it has been for every leftist cause. Think about it; What did Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and the rest make their money on? Molski, in short, was trying to become the white, paraplegic Jesse Jackson. Of course this stuff has it’s victims.

    I’d like you to consider other parallels, here. Remember our position that the faux concern over ‘redlining’ was in the end, what caused our current financial issues? What was that but a number of people using the court system in systematic extortion? I suggest the enviro-whackjob types can be similarly labeled. Tort reform, anyone?

    And so, we come to it; Is this just one more situation where extortion rules the day?

    As the bard might say… and leaving aside the social issues surrounding homoseuxual “marriage” for the moment, I think it be.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. Floyd says:

    Note to an interested party…This is by whom and how!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. Chris says:

    They act like spoiled children demanding mommy pay attention to them and acting out when they don’t get what they want.

    The same, I suppose, could be said for Black protesters during the Civil Rights movement. All those impertenant people like Martin Luther King Jr, stamping their feet when they didn’t get “their way” (i.e. – equal rights under the law).

    I appreciate Joyner’s update in that it acknowledges the core of the issue: that eHarmony is not an explicitly Christian/straight site. Until I read this on Memeorandum today, I was completely unaware of any connection to the church (then again, I don’t frequent these sites and I’ve been married for years, but it’s certainly nothing they trumpet on their commercials or web ads). All I knew about it was it’s infamously long and detailed personality test, and how effectively it matched people into stable, loving relationships.

    It may come as a shock to some whose knowledge of the gay community isn’t firsthand, but there are millions of homosexuals who desire stable, happy relationships just like straight people. There are plenty of specifically Christian dating sites that aren’t being targeted for lawsuits, presumably because they are not as effective in matching successful couples. eHarmony simply has a good business model that successfully matches couples into longstanding stable relationships, and homosexuals seek to benefit from that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  7. Floyd says:

    “”The same, I suppose, could be said for Black protesters during the Civil Rights movement. All those impertenant people like Martin Luther King Jr, stamping their feet when they didn’t get “their way” (i.e. – equal rights under the law).”"
    “”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”
    The above remark is an insult to those of us who are black[or any other color for that matter].

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  8. Bithead says:

    equal rights under the law

    There may be logical arguments in these matters. That’s not one of them. They can marry anyone of the opposite sex that will have them. What’s unequal about that?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. Steve Plunk says:

    Chris,

    The black civil rights movement did not stamp their feet when wronged but became successful through silent marches and mature behavior. Comparing the two only insults the first movement.

    King talked of peace, conducted peaceful protests, and counseled enduring patience while those opposed resorted to violence. The country responded to this display by giving respect to those earning it.

    I have no desire to persecute gays but the gay rights leadership must mature and understand the issue of earning respect as a political movement. This might also include reigning in the debauchery of gay rights parades and festivals which offend the senses of rather tolerant people. Forcing a change in millennial old traditions like marriage is something they must show more patience with.

    The eharmony suit was meant to punish eharmony since a similar service could have easily been established. The vindictive nature of the suit will not win friends while it will make enemies.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  10. [...] Moonbattery, Outside The Beltway, The Corner, Dr. Melissa Clouthier, This ain’t Hell …, Jules Crittenden, American Power,  [...]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. DL says:

    Let’s look at reality. Christians generally don’t attack gay ventures -until they force their way into destroying traditionally Christian areas like marriage – the boy scouts -public schools and colleges etc.

    Christians just don’t get too excited about gays corrupting entire communities such as Frisco or P-town -but when Fenway Park or Disney is obliged to have a celebration of gays where Christian’s sons and daughters generally inhabit, in order to push their agenda and ultimately eradicate the traditianal family and its values, they tend to get upset.
    When they dare to enter a sacred Mass and desecrate the Blessed Sacrament in absolute blasphemy, there is a respose to stop their nonsense.
    The goal of the gay community is to make buggery acceptable or even honored by society and that means stamping out the Christianity that can’t bow to their sin by calling it somethinmg other than what it is.
    The real war is between the sinner and God which is why it wont go away.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  12. Bithead says:

    Careful, here, DL. I think you do both sides s diservice when you cast this as a ‘reliious’ conflict. And so do they.

    think about this… Around 50% of Americans consider themselves ‘religious’, and yet last polling I saw on this issue showed around 75-80% against homoseuxual “marriage”. Consdier that even in socially liberal California, where church attendence is even lower, the vote on prop 8 was overwhelming.

    Clearly, what we’re dealing with is not a religious issue per se, but a cultural one, of which the religion aspect of it is only a subset, albeit a quite symbolic one.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  13. Al says:

    Quotes from various comments above…

    the hate-filled “protests” across the country in response to Prop.8

    The protests were notable for being peaceful, friendly, and very “up-with-people”. A few rowdy, isolated incidents does not equal “hate-filled ‘protests’ across the country.

    They can marry anyone of the opposite sex that will have them. What’s unequal about that?

    How, exactly, is this helpful or even desirable? Lot’s of closeted gay people get married, and it winds up tearing the marriage apart. Do you want a gay guy to marry your daughter?

    Christians just don’t get too excited about gays corrupting entire communities such as Frisco or P-town -but when Fenway Park or Disney is obliged to have a celebration of gays where Christian’s sons and daughters generally inhabit, in order to push their agenda and ultimately eradicate the traditianal family and its values, they tend to get upset

    So, as long as gays stay in their gay ghettos, it’s OK, then?

    . Forcing a change in millennial old traditions like marriage is something they must show more patience with.

    Millennial-old traditions like marriage have gone through lots lots of changes. Polygamy is all over the Bible, and most marriages through time have have been property contracts. Marrying for love (and who you wish) is of relatively recent vintage.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  14. Bithead says:

    How, exactly, is this helpful or even desirable? Lot’s of closeted gay people get married, and it winds up tearing the marriage apart. Do you want a gay guy to marry your daughter?

    The point your missing is the problem involved when we misidentify the thing as an ‘equal rights’ issue. Disagree with the law if you will, but the fact is it applies equally to all, and thereby is not an equal rights issue on any level.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. BobN says:

    It really is remarkable how thoroughly — pardon the expression — whitewashed the Civil Rights movement has become in the memories of many Americans. Peaceful protest by submissive blacks led by Martin Luther Ghandi.

    It strikes me that THAT is a far greater insult than any comparison to other civil rights movements.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  16. just me says:

    Of course, the creation of a separate site for gays — even if it’s absolutely identical — will almost certainly lead to more suits in the future.

    I don’t think this complaint would go very far if it is the same service. It actually would make good business sense to separate those who are gay looking for gay partnerships and those who are straight.

    In the end I thought this was a stupid lawsuit, and one that was pretty frivolous. If eharmony was the only game in town that would be one thing, but dating services and matching services are all over the place and many of them cater to gays only. Dating services are one area where I can see having a niche market.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. Houston says:

    The protests were notable for being peaceful, friendly, and very “up-with-people”. A few rowdy, isolated incidents does not equal “hate-filled ‘protests’ across the country.

    You’re kidding, right?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  18. An Interested Party says:

    re: Floyd at November 20, 2008 11:35

    Yes, of course…this silly lawsuit means the end of the republic as we know it! We’re doomed! The Apocalypse is upon us! Pardon me if I don’t share your fears…fears like those that would prompt some to write about all the so-called “hate-filled” protests across the country in response to Prop 8 (umm, what was so “hate-filled” about them?) or how the gay rights leadership should reign in the excesses of any gay pride parades and festivals (I guess black leaders should reign in the excesses of black rap singers? And white Southerners should reign in the excesses of racists in their midst? I mean, we wouldn’t want these two subgroups to offend the sensibilities of otherwise tolerant people, would we?) or accusing homosexuals of “corrupting” entire communities (umm, exactly how do they do that?)…the interesting thing about all this is that the fear and loathing being expressed in the comments on this thread would still be prevalent even if this lawsuit had never occurred…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  19. Floyd says:

    an interested party;
    Do you ever speak for yourself or do you only presume to put words in the mouths of others?
    From what I can see, it is not the objects of your ire that exhibit the extreme apprehension here.
    Just remember that in spite of the obvious projection, it was you who wrote the above nonsense, not me.
    I might enjoy hearing what you think on any subject, but I find it boring to hear you speculate on what I think,especially when you are consistently wrong.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  20. acoolerclimate says:

    ” equal rights under the law

    There may be logical arguments in these matters. That’s not one of them. They can marry anyone of the opposite sex that will have them. What’s unequal about that?”

    What is unequal is that if you are straight, you naturally fall in love with and are attracted to people of the opposite sex. So this law is fine for you.

    But us gay people are not attracted to nor fall in love with people of the opposite sex. So this law leaves plenty of people for straight people to marry, and none for gay people. If you can only marry people of the opposite sex, straight people get happy, loving marriages where you are both in love with and are attracted to each other. (yes, I’m making a point, not saying all straight marriages are this way). But for gay people if we marry someone of the opposite sex, at least one of us is not attracted to nor in love with the other. Not happy, not loving, and ultimately devastating to both parties.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  21. Bithead says:

    What is unequal is that if you are straight, you naturally fall in love with and are attracted to people of the opposite sex

    If that’s to be your logic, consdier that some people are naturally attracted to goats, too. Should the society be forced by government to modify it’s values to accomidate these?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  22. Bithead says:

    And when will we see a ‘goat’ section on EHarmony?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  23. An Interested Party says:

    re: Floyd | November 21, 2008 | 12:02 am |

    I put words in no one’s mouth, I merely restated the ridiculous arguments put forth by others on this thread…as for you finding what I write to be boring…well, even though it will be extremely difficult, I will try to find the strength to go on with life…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  24. Floyd says:

    Please, not on my account![grinz]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  25. An Interested Party says:

    Oh you needn’t worry, as your account is completely worthless…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0