eHarmony Critics Tone Deaf on ‘Discrimination’
Eli – You make an excellent point about the sexual-orientation discrimination lawsuit against eHarmony. Even if one takes a fairly statist view of public accommodation requirements, I fail to see where the tangible harm in this case arises.
The proprietors of eHarmony are in the business of setting up men with women and vice versa. Their much-vaunted “29 dimensions of personality” were created by the site’s guru, Dr. Neil Clark Warren, with that specifically in mind. In other words, the site is simply not set up to match same-sex couples. Assumably eHarmony’s critics wouldn’t take their Mercedes in to get serviced at a Ford dealership – I can’t imagine why they would want to use a dating service that would evaluate their profiles as if they were looking for a member of the opposite sex when they obviously are not.
As it turns out, there are plenty of other networking services that are happy to set up same-sex couples, either for a lifetime of love or for a much briefer period of social interaction. You can still take out a personal ad in your local newspaper, meet someone on Adult Friend Finder, look over the Craigslist scene or use one of several services that offer a service very similar to just what eHarmony provides. One such service, Chemistry.com, has even made eHarmony’s no-gays-allowed policy the centerpiece of its own, quite successful, marketing strategy.
Point being, if consumers are looking for a date with matching equipment, there are hundreds – if not thousands – of websites and dating networks just waiting to match them up. So why all the anti-eHarmony vitriol? I suspect that it might have something to do with the conservative political connections of founder Dr. Warren, who has Focus on the Family’s James Dobson to thank for a lot of the site’s initial success after it was heavily promoted on Dobson’s syndicated radio show.
Of course, all of this raises another question – if eHarmony can be sued for excluding gay singles from its service, what about Planet Out, BGay.com, GayDatingNetwork.com, and GayCupid.com? Are they now all going to be sued for not catering to straight singles? Better yet, what about jdate.com, the web’s “leading Jewish singles network”? Can I, as an aggrieved gentile, sue them for excluding my search for online love?
PS: It turns out you can search for same-sex matches on jdate, just in case you were wondering. There are at least 36 nice Jewish boys in the DC area looking for the same right now. I checked.