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If eHarmony Adds a ‘Gay Dating’ Link On Its Homepage, Will You Let It Off the Hook For Once Banning Gays?

compatiblepartnersscreen

Refusing to employ its “scientifically”-developed questionnaire to match gay couples, eHarmony was sued in 2008 by the New Jersey attorney general. Discrimination against gays!, they claimed. And that case was followed by a private suit from a California lawyer, which achieved class-action status — and is finally being settled. So what’d we learn from all this?

Straight dating sites can’t discriminate against gays, but gay sites can discriminate against straights. Or something.

Facing pressure from Jersey, eHarmony — created by Dr. Neil Clark Warren — launched CompatiblePartners.net, a benignly named gay matchmaking site for the queers. Warren had claimed that eHarmony’s methods, which match specific personality traits, didn’t work for gay couples, or at least he didn’t have the data on gay relationships to make it work. Meanwhile, he said, “We don’t really want to participate in something that’s illegal.” And that’s where everyone got furious!

warren

Not only did eHarmony’s treatment of the gays open the window for competitors to move in, it also broached a very real-world argument: If state attorneys general are going to force straights-only dating sites to provide services to the gays, is there an impending lawsuit against sites like Gay.com, Manhunt, and adam4adam to let heterosexuals shop for potential mates?

That question remains unresolved. But in settling its class action legal troubles — which were, effectively, calling out the company for violating California law that bars businesses from discriminating based on sexual orientation — eHarmony isn’t just maintaining the new-ish Compatible Partners, but it will also include a “gay dating” link to the site from its eHarmony homepage, the same way it does for its demographic-specific dating sites for blacks, Jews, and Christians. eHarmony, which will admit no wrongdoing, will also set up a $2 million settlement fund, with $500k available to pay out damages to any gay online daters who were, uh, harmed by eHarmony’s original no-gays-allowed policy. (A judge must still approve the settlement.)

We’re still on the fence about all this. Yes, we like laws that bar companies from discriminating against the gays. But what if the company’s very business operates in the arena of sexuality? Of course, this argument can always be made: If eHarmony was for whites-only, would we feel the same way?

RELATED: Lindsay Lohan Is Looking for Love on eHarmony

By:           editor editor
On:           Jan 27, 2010
Tagged: , , , , , , , ,
  • 12 Comments
    • RomanHans
      RomanHans

      Queerty, I don’t get why you’re on the fence. So Manhunt.com, etc. might have to allow heterosexuals. Why shouldn’t they? Click a little box that says you’re gay and you won’t have to see any of them. It’s not like they’re forcing you to date some scrapbooking stay-at-home single mom who bedazzles XXL sweatshirts in her spare time.

      Jan 27, 2010 at 11:20 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ChicagoJimmy
      ChicagoJimmy

      I think this is stupid. Should fat men be suing Lane Bryant because they don’t sell men’s clothing? I go to a hair salon that caters to men. Regardless of Tabitha’s thinking about the business model, should women be able to sue to get into one of those barber chairs? I was thinking about buying some sexy underwear for myself and my partner. I stopped into Victorian’s Secret to pick something up, but found they only sell undergarments for women! Should I be calling my lawyer and setting up a class action suit for all the men harmed by not being able to buy a thong that fits properly from Victoria’s Secret?

      The answer to these questions is NO! A business whose model is to target certain demographics isn’t discriminating, it’s creating a business model. Discrimination occurs when a service for everyone is denied to someone based on factors that have nothing to do with the service.

      Jan 27, 2010 at 11:30 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • The Artist
      The Artist

      I am only going to say this once… DO NOT SIGN UP WITH E-HARMONY! This organization is a front for hardcore Christian Fundamentalist Group. I’ve mention this to everyone (homo or heterosexual). They are only thinking about changing their business money to generate (guess what!!!!!) more money.

      Jan 27, 2010 at 12:19 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Steve Leong
      Steve Leong

      I strongly believe that companies who support “Gay Rights” should be patronized by GLBT community. Why support homophobic companies, who were forced to tolerate Gays? E Harmony is the looser in this case with their original foundation of “discrimination”, NOW, THEY ARE REAPING WHAT THEY SOWED…DISCRIMINATION! Steve Leong

      Jan 27, 2010 at 12:58 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • DillonS
      DillonS

      What a glorious waste of time and resources. Anyone behind this (and an earlier) suit should be ashamed of themselves.

      First, the money and time could have been spent on more pressing concerns for the gay community than winning one more site in which to find a partner (last time I checked there was no shortage of gay friendly AND gay specific dating sites).

      Second, why would any member of the LGBT community be interested in using the services that are simply putting more money into the pockets of a confirmed homophobe?

      Sometimes I look at members of my own community and am reminded that we suffer as many fools as the next group.

      Jan 27, 2010 at 4:57 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • JoeInOakland
      JoeInOakland

      It’s the people behind this lawsuit that makes gays and other progressives look HORRIBLE.

      What a frivolous waste of time, and quite honestly, I’m very surprised that eHarmony didn’t win this case.

      Anyone benefiting from this settlement SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF THEMSELVES for wasting the time and money of everyone involved and for all the potential intangible damages this case might cause upon truly important causes that advance gay rights.

      Shameful and frivolous.

      Can we refocus back on Perry v. Schwarzenegger now?

      -Joe

      Jan 27, 2010 at 7:57 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • MICHAEL HOLLENBAUGH
      MICHAEL HOLLENBAUGH

      no way.any company that discriminates againts gay people should be punished,&made to pay for there discrimination.

      Jan 27, 2010 at 8:22 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • JoeInOakland
      JoeInOakland

      @MICHAEL HOLLENBAUGH: Absolutely, I agree. Except that this is hardly a case of discrimination.

      Frivolous cases of “discrimination” like these only make it harder for real cases of discrimination to be taken seriously by the public.

      I want to say “pick your battles,” but it’s not even like this eHarmony battle was worthy fighting for anyway! What did this achieve except more backlash?

      Jan 27, 2010 at 8:34 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • San Francisco Treat
      San Francisco Treat

      @ 8 – it achieved compliance with the law.

      @ 6 – we can walk and chew gum. eharm settled because they were going to lose. why would they lose? because they are breaking the law.

      Jan 27, 2010 at 9:08 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • dontblamemeivotedforhillary
      dontblamemeivotedforhillary

      eHarmony is not even liked by straights!

      Jan 28, 2010 at 12:10 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jacob
      Jacob

      why sign up for a site/service that was forced, legally, to provide services to gays and lesbians? if they don’t want to, their loss.

      there are great services like myPartner.com that do exactly what eHarmony does, but they actually are for gays and lesbians by choice!

      Feb 1, 2010 at 1:07 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Tiran
      Tiran

      “If state attorneys general are going to force straights-only dating sites to provide services to the gays, is there an impending lawsuit against sites like Gay.com, Manhunt, and adam4adam to let heterosexuals shop for potential mates?”

      You mean straights aren’t allowed on those sites to look for mates? Someone might want to tell the heteros that.

      Of course if it weren’t for the married and common-law men on those sites there wouldn’t all that many profiles to choose from.

      The original litigant is an idiot. I hope the judge throws out the class action suit.

      Apr 13, 2010 at 3:18 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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