eHarmony Will Provide Same-Sex Matches

The online dating service eHarmony will provide same-sex matches as part of a settlement from a lawsuit complaining that the company discriminated against same-sex singles.

The settlement is the result of a complaint New Jersey resident Eric McKinley filed against the online matchmaker in 2005. McKinley, 46, said he was shocked when he tried to sign up for the dating site but couldn’t get past the first screen because there was no option for men seeking men …

Neither the company nor its founder, Neil Clark Warren, acknowledged any liability. Under the settlement, eHarmony will pay New Jersey state division $50,000 to cover administrative costs and will pay McKinley $5,000 … Pasadena, Calif.-based eHarmony said it plans to launch its new service, called Compatible Partners, on March 31 …

Theodore B. Olson, an attorney for eHarmony, said that even though the company believed McKinley’s complaint was “an unfair characterization of our business,” it chose to settle because of the unpredictable nature of litigation.

I don’t see why this is discrimination. If a person walks into McDonald’s, orders a hamburger and is denied service because he is gay, that is discrimination. But if the same person is turned away because he orders steak, that is not discrimination. It is simply not on the menu. The same conditions apply to every person who walks through the door.

eHarmony is a private company offering a specific service: the matching of compatible men and women for relationships based on years of research on male/female relationships. As long as they provide this service to all men and women equally, it is not discrimination. Mr. McKinley was not turned down because he was gay. He was turned down because he asked for a service that eHarmony did not provide. eHarmony also does not provide compatible matches for nannies, nurses and college roommates. Should their company be sued for that?

I don’t understand why a private company like eHarmony which provides a specific service of matching compatible men and women should be required to expand their service to match same-sex couples. Surely there are other online dating companies that provide this service. And of course it works the other way. A dating company that caters to same-sex couples should not be forced to expand their services to include male/female matches. I think this whole case sets a dangerous precedent.

So, what do you think of all this? Is this a case of discrimination? Should eHarmony be required to provide same-sex matches?

Related post: Statistics on Living Together Before Marriage
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7 Comments

  1. Margaret says:

    I agree with you. He was turned down because e-harmony did not provide the particular service he requested. I don’t understand why someone can sue in such a case.

    The “unpredictable nature of litigation” makes us all wonder what else can happen.

    As Christians, we need to pray for God’s justice and truth to prevail, in our court system, and in our whole world.

  2. John Wheaton says:

    Setting aside any specific sentiments on the topic of homosexuality, I think this is unjust for eHarmony. As you stated, they are a private company offering specific services which are clearly stated. The fact that this man went to this site seeking services they do not provide — and then sued them AND WON — is sad and ridiculous. Our courts are paving an ugly road for our future.

  3. Don Johnston says:

    eHarmony was treated unjustly, and I loved your McDonalds/steak analogy, and this does set a dangerous precedent. But my big problem is with eHarmony “caving” in to the “unpredictable nature of litigation”. I thought Neil Clark Warren was a Christian, and if so, what is a Christian, or a company based on Christian principles doing capitulating to the threats of the wicked? What about “we ought to obey God rather than men”? What about, “If God be for us, who can be against us? You talk about a dangerous precedent?! When decent and moral people or companies begin to be intimidated into compromising with the world, flesh or devil, than we are in trouble!! “No one can serve two masters…You cannot serve God and mammon (riches). If this is really the direction eHarmony is going, I’m truly sorry. Where are the Davids who will stand up against the Goliaths of our day?

  4. Ray Fowler says:

    Margaret, John and Don – Thanks for your thoughts on this. Don, I am also confused as to why eHarmony didn’t fight this thing the whole way through. There may be more to the story than we know.

  5. Vanna says:

    This is absolutely ridiculous….I agree that the type of service this person was looking for was not an option and that’s eharmony’s right. What is this world coming to?

  6. Pria says:

    This is an old post, but I just wanted to say, that I am gay and I disagree with how eHarmony was forced to do this. There are many other dating services that do provide same-sex matching, and I believe that eHarmony, as a private company that provides no life necessities (food, water, utlities) has the right to restrict it to opposite sex matching if they desire, just as a different service can restrict it to same sex matching if *they* desire.

    I have other, separate issues related to how eHarmony deals with abuse of their site by their members based on something that happened to a straight friend of mine on there, but that’s a separate issue. In any case, I think the company has dealt with it by doing a separate spin-off from eHarmony.

    Ray, I also appreciate your making the McDonalds service denial for a gay person, and keeping your comments civil and focused specifically on your personal understanding of the situation, and leaving the passing of judgment for “wickedness” to God.

  7. go says:

    If eHarmony is forced to take their privately owned company and bend to a government or state law/decree and they do not support gay relationships, they need to grow some and shut down the site.

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