eHarmony: no online dating for gays and lesbians?

June 1, 2007

no online dating for gays and lesbians?There’s a web site that helps you find love, marriage, and cozy long walks on a beach. But not if you’re gay.

Yesterday a lawsuit charged that eHarmony’s “heterosexuals only” policy was illegal discrimination.

The lawsuit revives a controversy that’s plagued eHarmony for years. More than two years ago, USA Today alluded to the company’s conspicuous caveat in a fascinating profile of the site’s founder — 72-year-old Neil Clark Warren. (“He’s like the grandpa who wants to set you up,” an analyst tells the newspaper.) But the article also quoted a gay New York psychiatrist who believed that “From a corporate perspective, eHarmony does discriminate. There’s clearly a deliberate desire to exclude gay people from the site.”

The company says it determines compatibility for its subscribers using research based on marriages — which, unfortunately, were not the same-sex kind. A Wikipedia entry raises questions about this explanation, however, and notes the company has ties to conservative political activist James Dobson.

Seizing the opportunity, a rival site launched Friday catering exclusively to gay men. (It’s called myPartnerPerfect.com, and offers its males-only service for just $37.95 a month, or $204 for a year).

But surprisingly, eHarmony had just prevailed in an earlier lawsuit yesterday. A man sued when his membership was declined because he was “legally separated” from his wife. (Technically, eHarmony felt, the man was still legally married to his wife.) And in April the company also faced complaints that they were rejecting men who weren’t tall enough.

Friday news of the lawsuit hit the Associated Press wire service, appearing in hundreds of newspapers across America. eHarmony issued a carefully-worded statement in the story, which they apparently hope will defuse the controversy. They announced that “Nothing precludes us from providing same-sex matching in the future.”

eHarmony isn’t saying that they will. They’re just saying that they can.



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20 Responses to “eHarmony: no online dating for gays and lesbians?”

  1. Michael:

    I’ve tried eHarmony in the past, I am a 30 year old hetrosexual male, never been married, never dated — through no fault of my own — and I always get the same response from eHarmony:

    ‘Sorry, but we cannot help you at this time.’

    Mind you, no dating site works for me…but eHarmony takes the cake!

  2. Brian:

    I used eHarmony. I am now married. Like Michael, I never dated much, and was in my late 20′s.
    I also initially got the “sorry, …” message, but as is true to their statements, they will refund any membership fees if you do not get any matches. Eventually I did get some matches, but it really only took 1 in particular to make me a believer in eHarmony.
    My wife also initially got the no matches message, but after a week or so, she too did get some matches.
    I have no problem with eHarmony not providing their service to gays and lesbians.
    I hope eHarmony does not bow to the political pressure to allow it.

  3. Erik:

    I’ve never used an online dating site, except to mess with some friends.

    But besides that it angers me that a business owner cannot attach his personal views to his company. Oh, unless they are pro-gay, pro-minority, pro-woman, etc.

    It’s hogwash. All of it. Fight these jackasses and stand up for yourself against the homos!

  4. Matthew:

    I will start by saying i have tried online dating (not eharmony then again apparently i could not if i wanted to, and it has worked OK)
    But I do say if you are going to have a public business you can not discriminate based on political, social economic, religious, racial background, or sexual orientation. If the person cases problems you can ban them from the sight or property but you can’t refuse to server them because of that.

    How dose it hurt you if the site allows gays to search for mates? It only would affect you if you put your profile as gay or BI so if you don’t do that you have nothing to worry about. Brian and Erik you both come off as bigoted, also of course you don’t see a problem with it you are not the one being discriminated against(the beauty of being the majority)

  5. Johnny:

    I’m not gay, but am a happily married hetero, yet: “stand up for yourself against the homos?” do you really think you need to stand up for yourself, Erik? Are they pestering you that bad that you feel the need to rally the forces? Tell me the last time one stepped on your lawn, spoke with you about anything anti-hetero, or got in your face where you felt pushed down and in need of some retribution… doubtful. You don’t agree with it, and that’s fine, but stop acting like it’s you vs. them when they’ve probably never done anything to you or your family. I can’t understand how so many people can be so angry at something they have no dealing with in their every day lives. Blows my mind how sad America has become, that only the values of the selfish, insecure, and egotistical individuals should be accepted becuase only they have the anger required to make an uninformed voice. Just for the sake of progress and a humanitarian step forward in this horrific nation, I hope the gays and lesbians win this one.

  6. ken:

    So what if Eharmony doesn’t want to allow gays? There are plenty of other gay dating options available.
    I think what we should do is sign up for some of these gay sites and make a stink about not catering to normal people.
    It’s a double standard.. They want to be able to access everything yet exclude those that they don’t agree with their messed up views.
    Search it, find out if these gay sites allow normal people to sign up. You will find a double standard there.
    Go figure

  7. Matthew:

    LMAO at allen’s reply! Keep them form reproducing, um gays can’t have babies, it looks like some one needs to have a refresher in biology if you want to stop gay bays you would have to sterilize every straight couple wait that would end the human race! No go F&%@ your self!

  8. Ubervixen:

    It’s a business, not a government or public resource. eHarmony can include or exclude whomever they want to.

    Why isn’t the author of this article upset that SoulSingles.com doesn’t cater to whites, or that ChristianSoulomates.com doesn’t have anything to offer muslims?

  9. Chad:

    It’s a private business. They should be allowed to cater to whom they wish to cater. If you don’t like the business, vote with your dollars and go elsewhere. Simple economics.
    If you believe that you are owed a mate, but you can’t find one that is your same sex, you are certainly capable of reexamining your sexuality. If the need is simply to screw, go to a bar, or a singles location that fits your “need”.

  10. Rick:

    Most dating sites only remove “objectionable” postings and don’t screen anybody for their religious views, sexual orientation and such. Most sites just want our money!

    On a related issue: I contacted eHarmony to see if they had a box to check on to disclose STD’s. (I am HIV+) They said they did not but that the encouraged their members to post this information. I then emailed them back to ask just how the “encouragement” was done and they emailed me back and retracted the statement, basically saying that this would be up to the person posting an advertisement. I’ll bet if a person discloses an STD on to eHarmony they would end up being rejected. With one out of four people who have HIV not evening knowing that they have it, I feel that it is time for this group of people to not have to be discriminated against and forced to use special (and usually inferior) dating sites to hook up. The more out in the open the STD issue becomes, the more people will get tested. Perhaps the question on a survey should be not just a yes or no (which often really means I don’t know), but also “have you been tested?” Dating sites need to show some social responsibility in the way they run their businesses.

  11. Brian:

    As a gay male, I’m glad eHarmony doesn’t cater to homosexuals. Online dating is a joke. Great, there are people that get married by meeting online, blah blah blah. As Allan so elequently put it, we need to be prevented from reproducing … so don’t allow us to use eHarmony. We have our own sites like MySpace *rolls eyes*

  12. Hiswillnotmine:

    eHarmony is a Christian site and they are not going to allow homosexual dating,so why are homosexuals trying to force this upon them? And why do Christians have to accomodate the world’s wants and desires anyway? If people don’t like it,find a non-Christian dating service! I have to ask: if this were a Muslim or another faith’s dating service,would people being trying so hard to enforce and change this? People can say what they want about it,but I don’t think they would be trying this hard if it were any other faith! Every other faith has the civil rights to not be forced to change their beliefs for the rest of us! I commend eHarmony for standing their ground as it should not matter what man thinks,but rather what God says and whether man agrees,like it not does not matter. Why do you have to be called a hater just because you believe something is wrong? Believe it or not people,you can love the sinner without loving or compromising to the sin they are committing.

  13. Jailee:

    I also agree with E Harmony with standing their ground. If you are Gay and have problems with it then start your own. On a seperate yet relevant note. It’s is not the responsibilityof the business to cater to every crybaby out there or to enforce social responsibility. That is the job of the people using the service nor more that it’s Microsofts or Apple’s job to enforce people to use computers in an ethical manner. Please wake up…. People use discrimination like it’s a weapon or bad thing even though it can be used as such. Let me propose this: if you had kids and had the option of getting a babysitter from an agency or Michael Jackson who would you choose? It’s rhetorical and that is discriminatory yet necessary…it’s a no brainer.

  14. Christian dating:

    If there’s none for them then I’m sure there is a place for Christian singles looking for serious relationship. You can rely to them on that, right?

  15. Tayeb:

    Thumbs down to eHarmony. They should know that gay people also have a life, they should be treated the same way as straight people.

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    Nrg boys” a social networking site for gays is all set to make it’s mark in United Kingdom. This site will allow users to express oneself with a avatar virtually.
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