Website’s Gay Questions Discriminate

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Roommates.com will have to renovate its digs. A San Francisco-based appeals court ruled yesterday that the domestic match making service cannot require users to disclose their sexuality:

To inquire electronically about sexual orientation would not be different from asking people in person or by telephone if they were black or Jewish before conducting business, the panel said in an 8-3 ruling that partly overturns a lower federal court decision.

“If such screening is prohibited when practiced in person or by telephone, we see no reason why Congress would have wanted to make it lawful to profit from it online,” 9th Circuit chief judge Alex Kozinski wrote. “Not only does Roommate ask these questions, Roommate makes answering the discriminatory questions a condition of doing business.”

A dissenting judge claim the ruling “threatens to chill the robust development of the Internet that Congress envisioned,” which sounds a bit over blown to us.

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One Comment

  • Greg May

    You are seriously overstating the ruling in this case.

    All the court decided was that IF it is illegal to post discriminatory advertising for a roommate generally, it is no less illegal just because it is part of the on-line service. The court explicitly left the question of whether the ads are actually illegal open for determination when the case goes back to the trial court.

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