In case you haven’t heard, eHarmony has recently settled a 7-year-long lawsuit in NJ by agreeing to offer its services for gays to meet same sex partners (source here). Previously, the site only arranged meetings for heterosexual couples with a focus on long-term relationships and even marriage. Match.com and Yahoo have long offered their sites/service to gays.
I think it’s a ridiculous case. Some news reports have compared it to “a meat-eater suing a vegetarian restaurant for not offering him a rib-eye, or a female patient suing a vasectomy doctor for not providing her hysterectomy services.”
To have fought the battle for seven years is to be commended but the sudden about face is somewhat disconcerting.
The dating site came into prominence in 2001 after its founder, Clark Warren appeared on James Dobson’s radio show. It immediately received 90,000 referrals and has climbed from 4,000 clients in 2001 to more than 20,000,000 today. According to Dr. Dobson, Dr. Warren told the LA Times that association of eHarmony with Focus on the Family is “the kiss of death.”
And when I say, “cave” I mean they CAVED – big time. Some of the terms of the agreement are as follows:
>eHarmony will launch the new same-sex dating site, named "Compatible Partners," by March 31.
>They will offer a free, 6-month subscription to 10,000 gay users.
>Pay the plaintiff, Eric McKinley $5,000 and fork over $50,000 to New Jersey's Civil Rights division "to cover investigation-related administrative costs." (AKA shakedown money)
> Post photos of same-sex couples in the "Diversity" section of its website.
>Revise anti-discrimination statements placed on company websites, in company handbooks and other company publications to make plain that it does not discriminate on the basis of "sexual orientation"
Now, if I owned eHarmony, I would have simply posted the following on my website:
"We’re sorry but our services are not available to residents of New Jersey. For additional information, please contact your attorney general.”
Further reading: Another Take on eHarmony