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?
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