On Tuesday, eHarmony settled a lawsuit that claimed they discriminate against people looking for same-sex partners. In a previous settlement, they agreed to create a separate site called CompatiblePartners.com. Now, the firm will establish a $2 million fund, with $500,000 going to gays and lesbians who can prove they were harmed by the site.
While most civil rights gains have come through lawsuits, I think this is the absolute dumbest civil rights lawsuit ever. In fact, I think it will backfire on those seeking LGBT rights.
eHarmony claims that they use techniques that they developed through research to match opposite-sex couples. They say they have done no research into whether these techniques work for same-sex couples. My unscientific answer — they don’t.
Let me use myself as an example. My former partner Tommy and I were together for 14 years. I didn’t know his name until our second — um — date, nor did I really care. I’m guessing that the questions Christian-based eHarmony poses to clients wouldn’t have matched us.
On the other hand, at my last job, a co-worker met her husband through eHarmony and they seem to be a perfect couple. They’re really like one of those couples on eHarmony TV ads that want to make you puke and I think that’s fantastic. Really. She’s a friend and I love that she’s happy. I hope other straight Christians going to their site are equally lucky.
But this ruling could have terrible far-reaching consequences for the LGBT and other communities.
Jdate matches Jewish couples. Religious discrimination! Will Jdate have to start matching non-Jews? (By the way, Jdate matches both same-sex and opposite-sex couples). But how will non-Jews answer questions like “Do you keep kosher?” or “Ethnicity?” (with the choices “Ashkenazi” or “Sephardi”). Or will Jdate have to eliminate these questions?
Will women start appearing on Manhunt or Adam4Adam? Will Club Dallas and Midtowne Spa no longer be allowed to “discriminate” against heterosexuals? Will Dallas Eagle be required to start holding straight leather nights or will they have to ban show tunes at karaoke nights on Cedar Springs because heterosexuals shouldn’t be required to know who Stephen Sondheim is?
Would heterosexuals now be able to sue the Dallas Voice claiming harm due to our lack of coverage of their issues? (I guess I’d be blogging about Proposition 7 rather than 8, you know, the one about California utilities procuring half their power from renewable resources by 2025. Oh, it lost while Prop 8 passed.)
I hope no one collects any money from the eHarmony fund. Proving harm from a web site — especially one that is essentially just a dating service — should prove impossible, unless maybe you’re actually matched with someone and that person who robs or rapes you on a date.
I do think that there actually is one group that might claim harm from eHarmony. Apparently, heterosexuals who answer questions in a certain way are told that they do not fit the eHarmony profile and the web site won’t be able to help them. Actually, I like that answer too. It’s honest. Look, we can’t help you. Go elsewhere where they can. Maybe the only thing eHarmony should be required to do is to clearly post that it is a dating site for Christian heterosexuals. Let them do what they do best and make money satisfying a need. The rest of us can look (and spend our money) elsewhere.