Vehemently heterosexual dating site eHarmony never intended to let gay couples use its profile matching algorithms to find love, but New Jersey’s attorney general made the decision for them: Either launch a gay-friendly site or face an anti-discrimination suit. And so the site, founded in 2000 by shrink Neil Clark Warren (yes, the guy in all the eHarmony ads) and proud sponsor of Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi’s very gay unions, today launches its same-sex off-shoot: Compatible Partners.
If the new site’s name sounds sterile, well, you’re right. Slugged “Serious relationships for the gay and lesbian community,” Compatible Partners will never be confused with a Manhunt or adam4adam. And while the site’s name makes no mention of gays, the drop-down list where you select your own gender and the gender you’re hoping to meet sends the message home: Compatible Partners only allows men to look for other men, and women for women.
Since the criticism for being straight-only began, eHarmony rationalized its decision to exclude gays by insisting the technology behind the site — where applicants are asked dozens of questions and then matched based on a personality profile, which means some folks are told they are unmatchable — wasn’t geared for same-sex pairing.
Interesting eHarmony found a way to update its algorithms just in time for the agreed upon launch date of its gay dating site: today. And will they be promoting it? Says the LAT: “As part of the settlement [with New Jersey], Pasadena-based EHarmony must make a ‘good-faith commitment’ to promoting Compatible Partners. But the company seems as nervous as the groom at a rehearsal dinner, insisting that the only on-the-record interview be with Chief Executive Greg Waldorf. That interview was canceled when the company learned Warren had spoken with The Times.” So far, “good-faith commitment” does not include linking to Compatible Partners from eHarmony’s homepage.
(Note: It’s CompatiblePartners.net, not .com.)