eHarmony’s Unholy Spin…

The spin doctors are in!

Newsweek‘s Lisa Miller recently wrote on a gay couple’s lawsuit against dating site eHarmony, which prohibits same-sex couples.

The site claims that they haven’t calibrated themselves for the queers and, thus, cannot accommodate our allegedly unique dating styles. They also justify their discrimination by saying they’re marriage oriented and, since gays can’t marry, they’re just following the law of the land.

We’ve always doubted their arguments, but Miller falls for it hook, line and stinker!

Consider this confounding statement: “eHarmony does not reject gays—it simply doesn’t accept them: the only choices on the site are ‘man seeking woman’ or ‘woman seeking man.’” First of all, there’s no difference between “rejection” and “non-acceptance.” They both boil down to discrimination. And gay activist Sean Kosofsky agrees, writing:

How can you possibly say that discrimination is not occurring when you admit you don’t accept certain people? By using language the excludes people from the outset, you are overtly discriminating.

Even more disturbing, we think, is Miller’s next sentence, which amounts to nothing more than company-provided propaganda:

A company lawyer explains that eHarmony makes matches based on unique scientific research into what makes heterosexual unions work; it hasn’t done the same kind of work on gay unions, though it doesn’t rule out such research in the future.

To her credit, Miller does highlight founder Neil Clark Warren’s ties with the Christian right, a subculture geared toward marriage. Unfortunately, she does nothing to discredit their claims.

Many of you may recall our interview with “love doctor” Helen Fisher, who works with eHarmony’s rival, Fisher’s spent the majority of her career studying attraction and, in fact, is one of the world’s most respected romance researchers. Over the course of that interview, our editor asked Dr. Fisher if she has found any difference in how gays and straights pick their mates. Here’s her response:

…I would object seriously to [creating sexuality-specific compatibility tests], because I don’t think gays are any different than straights, but the one preliminary test I did…my gay population chose exactly the same as my straight population. No difference.

Newsweek‘s Miller must have missed that exchange, because she seems more than willing to regurgitate eHarmony’s incomprehensible, dangerous, discriminatory justifications. And it’s quite unattractive.

[Navy Heart by Robin Tolbert]

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  • Dave

    Frivolous lawsuit. eHarmony is a private business. They can cater to anyone they like.

    The solution is just to not patronize them, and tell your straight friends not to patronize them.

  • KPB

    Dave, I 100% agree with you and am glad to see someone else has some sense. It’s so disappointing to see yet another wasteful lawsuit slowing down our courts.

  • Kevin

    I agree with that. Let the free market take care of eHarmony. It’s no secret that LGBTs are one of the nation’s fastest growing affluent sub-populations. If they continue to refuse to play up to us, they won’t see revenue from us or from those who sympathize with us.

    And is doing a _fantastic_ job with its marketing campaign, which places it directly opposite of eHarmony.

  • Kevin Foster

    A restaurant is a private business. Can a restaurant cater only to whites, or only to Christians?

  • foofyjim

    Are they discriminating by not offering what we want? There are lots of women’s only clothing stores that cater exclusively to women. I suppose I could go in and purchase a frilly blouse or cute skirt, but I don’t really want those clothes. Should I then sue the store because they don’t offer men’s garments?

    We have much bigger fish to fry than a stupid company that simply offers a product we don’t want. Any company that fails to expand into new markets that are a natural fit are setting themselves up for eventual failure. Maybe I will get that little black dress and wear it to their funeral.

  • Chris

    So private schools may harass (or simply “don’t accept”) gay teens? It’s private, they could attend other schools. Let the market decide. (Bullshit!)

  • Mark

    Glad to find that others are opposed to this lawsuit. eHarmony should ditch the apparently bogus argument and stick with the more fundamental one: they own their business and have a right to offer their services to whomever they want.

    Any of you hear about the men-only gay bar in Montreal that just settled a suit brought by a woman who was denied entry? I hope the people in favor of the eHarmony suit also agree that gay bars shouldn’t be allowed to restrict their clientele.

  • Ted

    Looks like e-harmony has their paid agents in comments here. No business, including bars, should be able to discriminate against anyone due to any immutable characteristic.

  • Mark

    “No business, including bars, should be able to discriminate against anyone due to any immutable characteristic.”

    And if anyone disagrees with me, he’s a stooge!

    Seriously, way back when eHarmony first appeared, I wrote them a nastygram about not offering their service to gay people. Which is the extent of my communication with them. I don’t like eHarmony, I just happen to stop short of the view that my opinions should be enforced by law.

  • alan brickman


  • emb

    I’m all for the free-market alternative. What astonishes me is supposedly “liberal” and “gay-friendly” media that accept advertising and support from discriminatory, anti-gay eHarmony. AirAmerica and NPR are both guilty of this. If eHarmony felt it didn’t have adequate research to support black people’s romantic interests, or failed to include Hispanic in the racial identifical drop-down, I’m sure there’d be an uproar.

    Phone calls and letters and boycotts, folks, but point ’em at eHarmony’s supporters who are supposed to be our friends.

  • WeTheSheeple

    People should be able to discriminate if they want. If you don’t like it, don’t patronize their business. And that goes for gay/straight, black/white/etc., christian/jew/muslim/athiest, etc., etc., etc. I’m sick of the government telling me who I have to sell a product to, rent an apartment to, go to school with, work with, etc. It’s just become too much.

    As a gay man I wouldn’t want to be forced to rent my house to a bible-thumping religious freak. I should have the freedom to rent to whomever I want.

    If you don’t like a store or product, then vote with your feet & your pocket book.

  • Cambel

    This is small potatoes when you take the marraige debate etc… into consideration. I’m leaning more towards the “They are a private company” opinion. I know three straight couples who all met and married on EHarmony. They are so damn happy it’s tough for me to hate the company.

  • KPB

    I have to seriously laugh at the comment that those who disagree with this lawsuit are paid stooges by eHarmony. Let’s get something straight. The government should protect people against discrimination in three areas. Food, shelter and work. 3 necessesities. Internet dating is hardly a necesessity and should not be regulated. People have a right to run their businesses how they see fit. If they choose to exclude the gay community, they have that right. They’re idiots for doing it but so be it. Plenty of private groups exclude people. I can think of several gyms that are for women only. Do you really have a problem with that? Some of you are the exact reason why the christian right is so afraid of us and fights so hard against us. Because they do not want to be forced to have to cater to us. And guess what, they shouldn’t have to. get over it and support bussinesses that support us. Everything in this world isn’t meant to fit our agenda. Thank God for freedom of choice.

  • Daniel

    If you want to do business you have to uphold the law, including the laws which state no discrimination based on sexual orientation. eHarmony should lose millions of dollars in punitive damages; they are plainly breaking the laws in many states. No excuse they can generate alters that reality. And being a “private business” is no shield because most businesses are privately-owned operating in the public marketplace. I hope all the profits they have generated are lost to teach them a lesson in upholding nondiscrimination laws. Similarly any dating site that discriminates in who they accept based on sexual orientation should lose their profits too if they do business in regions with nondiscrimination laws (many gay sites discriminate against people based on gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation, and are just as bad as eHarmony).

  • Mark

    @Daniel: I am not a lawyer, but my understanding is that those state laws are for employment, housing, and accommodations, not anything else. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I find it hard to believe it’s as clear-cut as you present it.

    At any rate if the laws do prohibit what eHarmony is doing, they’re bad laws and we should repeal them. And until then, we can still ridicule the sad specimens of humanity who bring suits against businesses that don’t want to cater to them. If someone doesn’t want to deal with you, have some dignity and self-respect, let them go their own way, and get on with your own life.

  • KPB

    Daniel, I find it completely sad that you think our government should be wasting its time with a business that you probably have zero interest in patronizing. Since you feel so strongly about this and feel like american citizens are in such peril from being denied a “love match” by eHarmony I’d appreciate you starting a fundraising campaign to erradicate them so the government isn’t using my tax dollars on such a pointless effort. I could care less what eHarmony does. Like any SANE person I simply choose another business. Of which there are many to choose from. And if I can’t find a business to support me, wow, I live in america and can start my own. Stop looking to the government to solve inane problems like this one. This lawsuit is an absurd joke and anyone involved has way too much time on their hands.

  • Phoenix

    I wouldn’t use E-Harmony even if they did cater to teh Queer! Several straight females I know tried it out and hated it. Apparently they reject those who aren’t religious (devout christians) and don’t match anyone with those outside their race. They seem bigoted on a lot of others levels.

  • Dave

    Lots of comments here since this morning!

    I’m not a lawyer. My understanding of nondiscrimination laws is that they apply to certain specific areas – shelter and jobs mainly. Also, to any organization that receives public money.

  • CPT_Doom

    As a gay man I wouldn’t want to be forced to rent my house to a bible-thumping religious freak. I should have the freedom to rent to whomever I want.

    Well, you don’t have that freedom, becaused the federal law that specifically does NOT include gays and lesbians DOES include religions, so you cannot refuse to rent to someone based on their religious beliefs. They, of course, in most states can refuse to rent to you because you’re gay, but that’s the way it goes.

    Public accommodations, which are covered by most anti-discrimination laws, are defined very broadly, as I understand it. Basically, if you sell goods or services to the general public, you are a public accommdation. The women’s clothing store, for instance, can choose to sell only women’s clothing, but cannot refuse to sell that clothing to anyone based on gender.

    Now, I don’t know that I would have sued eHarmony, but I would have alerted state authorities to their illegal practices (and the bullsh*t about gay marriage being “against the law” really boils my blood – it may not be legally recognized, but it is NOT illegal). I also agree that it is ridiculous for networks like Bravo to sell eHarmony ad time if they have such a large LGBT audience. I especially hate it when shows like Queer Eye, Project Runway or Work Out have eHarmony ads – why should they be advertising to gays if they don’t serve us?

  • Mark

    It looks like CPT_Doom is right about the meaning of “public accommodations.” I still don’t think it’s obvious that eHarmony is violating that interpretation, but it would seem to require them to prove their case that there are different skills required to match gay couples.

    I’ll repeat, though, that government has no valid right to be interfering in the decisions made by private businesses, and that the laws that allow them to do so should be repealed. If I were in the printing business, for example, I would want the right to refuse a job that required me to print anti-gay religious tracts.

  • A Different Ted

    There is a distinction that needs to be made in this argument, even if it is absurd to many of you: eHarmony is not rejecting or refusing its services to anybody, it is simply choosing to offer specific services that happen to be of no interest to homosexuals. eHarmony only chooses to match men with women, which is a specific service; this is not a social networking site, it is a dating service. Though I am a gay man, the website and company would not reject me if I wanted their services; therefore, they are not being discriminatory. It just so happens that I don’t want to meet women to date, so therefore, I choose to use a different company. There are plenty of non-internet dating companies that exclusively match gay people with one another, and plenty that exclusively match straight people with one another; sometimes this is based on limits of manpower or the wish to focus resources on catering to a specific market, and other times it’s based on ignorant beliefs. No business should be sued for the limits of the services it wishes to offer – even if the limits of its services are based on ignorance.

  • Mike

    Because Helen Fisher says gays picked the same as straights in an unpublished study we’re supposed to believe it?

    Neither side has published peer reviewed research to prove whether gays or straights choose mates differently. The people who HAVE say they do.

    I highly doubt gay men have the same factors going into their mate selections as heterosexuals. Chemistry doesn’t even determine sexual position as a part of their test. Ignoring differences is not catering to the community.

    While I appreciate openness to different orientations, I actually prefer eHarmony’s position in admitting that sexual orientation matters. I don’t really have any faith that their matching is any better than chemistry’s but there’s no proof that their personality tests predict either realtionship longevity or compatibility.

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  • cuddles

    I am gay and I agree that a private business should be able to cater to whomever they would like. E-Harmony should not have to cater to gay people. A gay dating website should not be forced to cater to straights. A mens store doesn’t have to sell womens clothing. A womens clothing store does not have to sell mens clothes. Such a stupid lawsuit! If I were E-Harmony, I would go into a different business before I catered to stupid homos!

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