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eHarmony Sued for Discriminating Against Gays

eHarmony, the dating site with strong ties to right-wing religious organization Focus on the Family, has been sued by a woman in Los Angeles for discriminating against gays and lesbians.

EharmonyAccording to Reuters: "Lawyers bringing the action said they believed it was the first lawsuit of its kind against eHarmony, which has long rankled the gay community with its failure to offer a 'men seeking men' or 'women seeking women' option. They were seeking to make it a class action lawsuit on behalf of gays and lesbians excluded from the dating service."

The company called the claims "false and reckless" in a statement to the press:

"The research that eHarmony has developed, through years of research, to match couples has been based on traits and personality patterns of successful heterosexual marriages. Nothing precludes us from providing same-sex matching in the future. It's just not a service we offer now based upon the research we have conducted."

The lawsuit seeks damages for those discriminated against, as well as a change in the company's policy.

The ad below, produced by rival dating company chemistry.com, took advantage of eHarmony's policy by promoting themselves as an inclusive alternative.

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Comments

  1. If eHarmony doesn't offer gay matches, GO SOMEWHERE ELSE. What a waste of time and money to sue a company like that.

    It's like suing a dry cleaning company because they won't cook dinner for you.

    Sorry folks, but I have to vote for eHarmony on this one.

    Posted by: Joshua | Jun 1, 2007 11:05:41 AM


  2. I don't think they should be sued for not offering GLBT matching. It's a private company. They can offer the services they want. But the excuse they use is pretty lame. Unless it's just a sex hookup site, the relationship values that people have are pretty similar across sexual orientations. The fact is, the dude who owns eHarmony is an evangelical Christian who simply doesn't want to own up to his own prejudice. That doesn't make him legally culpable in my opinion, but it does make him look like an asshole... which may end up being even more costly for the company that a settlement would be.

    Posted by: Brian | Jun 1, 2007 11:10:12 AM


  3. Company A doesn't offer service to a market.
    Company B,C,D,E,F, etc offers services to the market that Company A doesn't offer to

    Problem solved.

    The issue that I have is this woman is using a site that has little to offer her in ways of finding a date. Me thinks she or her lawyer is just hard up for money.

    Posted by: yoshi | Jun 1, 2007 11:13:09 AM


  4. Yeah, this is stupid and only makes the gay community look stupid. Come on guys, we're better than that and we should be smarter too. There are plenty, and I do mean PLENTY of other gay dating sites to choose from.

    When I find a company with anti-gay policies or practices I simply don't give them my money.

    Posted by: monkey | Jun 1, 2007 11:14:08 AM


  5. Terry Gross interviewed Neil Clark Warren, founder of eHarmony, back in August of 2005. Warren is an evangelical Christian--'nuff said. Terry pressured him on the subject of why he didn't offer homosexual matching services and he tried to slime out of it by saying he had no experience with homosexual relationships and therefore didn't think he could best serve the gay community in that regard. Or some such bullshit like that. I wish Terry had pressed him more on the subject...

    Posted by: Michael W. | Jun 1, 2007 11:14:24 AM


  6. Amen to the above---why any self-respecting homo would want a bunch of evangelicals hooking them up is beyond me. There are plenty of alternatives out there.

    Posted by: Acolyte | Jun 1, 2007 11:15:40 AM


  7. Of course, if it is the object of the lawsuit to bring the idiocy behind E-harmony to light, then more power to them...

    Posted by: Acolyte | Jun 1, 2007 11:18:07 AM


  8. This lawsuit should be tossed by noontime.

    eHarmony is a private company with a penny of government funding. They can, despite what this woman believes, can do as they please.

    If this proves successful, then every college campus with fraternities and sororities will have to include the opposite sex. The Girls Scouts would have to include boys. High school and college yearbook photos would have to include nude formals for nudists, giraffes for pet lovers, etc. Major League sports would have to include both sexes, no more WNBA, etc.

    It is not as if same sex dating services are unavailable or illegal. They are plentiful.

    It wrankles me when I read extremist attempts at obtaining money, such as this one.

    Posted by: Stephen | Jun 1, 2007 11:19:12 AM


  9. that should read, "without a penny of government funding"

    Posted by: Stephen | Jun 1, 2007 11:23:35 AM


  10. I think we are all in agreement. Should I sue Playboy magazine for discriminating against gay men?

    Posted by: anon | Jun 1, 2007 11:40:49 AM


  11. This is like a straight woman suing Manhunt for not offering a men seeking women. Gimme a break.

    Posted by: TroyTooner | Jun 1, 2007 11:42:07 AM


  12. One time they didn't let me in at LURE because I was wearing an Izod shirt and sandals. I didn't sue them, because I'm not an imbecile.

    Posted by: LD | Jun 1, 2007 11:43:38 AM


  13. The lack of government funding doesn't matter. Most companies don't receive government funding but are still bound by all relevant laws, including those prohibiting discrimination. While there is no federal law prohibiting discrimination against gays in public 'accomodations' such as this, there are plenty of state and local laws.

    Posted by: Anon | Jun 1, 2007 11:46:34 AM


  14. eHarmony's logic about 'we haven't done research on gays, so it's OK not to serve them' doesn't fly. If they had only done research on white people, they couldn't just refuse to provide services to blacks and get away with it under antidiscrimination laws.

    Posted by: Anon | Jun 1, 2007 11:49:10 AM


  15. I think it's kind of amusing that eHarmony's TV ads feature "heterosexual" men most of whom look like the most desperate suburban closet cases you could possibly dredge up. I guess their "research" department isn't as great as it's cracked up to be.

    Posted by: Frank L | Jun 1, 2007 11:59:43 AM


  16. According to the Match.com ads they are discriminating against black people. However, non-discrimination laws are not as universal you people think.

    Posted by: anon (gmail.com) | Jun 1, 2007 12:00:27 PM


  17. Has this woman thought this through at all? What exactly is she hoping to accomplish? She is suing for the right to give her money to an anti-gay person who supports anti-gay organizations like Focus on the Family. If her goal is to get a date and give her money to bigots she should just go to chemistry.com to get the date and then send a cashier’s check in the amount of an eharmony membership directly to:

    Dr. James Dobson
    c/o Focus on the Family
    8605 Explorer Dr.
    Colorado Springs, CO 80920-1051
    U.S.A.

    That way she can cut out the middle man and make sure that FOF gets the full amount of her contribution.

    I don't believe in discrimination but for the life of me I can't understand why so many gay people work so hard to give their hard earned pink dollars to people that hate them and will turn around and give that money to political parties, organizations and churches that lobby to deny GLBT people legal rights and benefits; you know, the REALLY important stuff.

    Seriously, we have to be smarter than that.

    Posted by: Zeke | Jun 1, 2007 12:11:01 PM


  18. My gut reaction is to agree with most here that a private company can market to whomever they please. It's the consumer's responsibility to call out the company's discrimination practices and spread the word on them, but I don't think legal action is required.

    On the other hand, if E-Harmony is completely in their right to serve or not serve whomever they please, why don't they simply say that?

    This idea that their research doesn't apply to gays and lesbians is bogus and flimsy.

    If they're not worried about their own discrimination policies, why hide behind bogus research excuses?

    And Stephen, your analogies about nudists in yearbooks and such is absolutely ridiculous. Straights and gays pretty much seek out the same characteristics in partners as heterosexuals do, so the two are not as disparate as boys vs. girls, clothed vs. nudists. Try again.

    Posted by: mark m | Jun 1, 2007 12:14:59 PM


  19. I'm a little surprised at the comments posted above. While I do not agree with suing at the drop of the hat (there are more important issues at hand, such as the War in Iraq and hate crime legislation and environmental law), eHarmony does allow for registration of homosexual profiles but doesn't STATE that they do not match for homosexual relationships until AFTER you have signed up and paid for the service.

    Think of this analogy. A gay person walks into an establishment for a service that for all intents should be available, for example the dry cleaning scenario. However, the business states we don't offer dry cleaning for homosexual goods, or even African-American customers. It's a dry cleaning business, yet they chose not to offer their services to a specific demographic. Certainly it is their right, however it is also their right to be sued for discrimination, which is exactly what this is. The analogies offered are not on par with the situation at hand. If a company is going to offer a dating service presummed to be "the best", then it needs to defend itself for not offering that service to other demographics. Just because it is "dating" and not "dry cleaning" or "car washing" or that other services such as "Manhunt" exist doesn't justify the decision. A lot of internet services seem to get away with more as these are "virtual" services and not face to face. That is, has this woman walked into an office and been physically turned away there would certainly be more of an uproar, but because this all occurred online as opposed to a physical business turning someone away people seem less inclined to feel a bit resented.

    As this is a lesbian lawsuit in particular holds more weight as there are very few dating services tailored to lesbian coupling. Many of the comments above suggest less sympathy for the woman as she is a lesbian (which is somewhat typical of the predominantly male homosexual community). If this had been a male homosexual bringing suit, perhaps the community might view this differently. Regardless, I believe there is some merit to this claim.

    Posted by: Cory | Jun 1, 2007 12:34:21 PM


  20. I'm a little surprised at the comments posted above. While I do not agree with suing at the drop of the hat (there are more important issues at hand, such as the War in Iraq and hate crime legislation and environmental law), eHarmony does allow for registration of homosexual profiles but doesn't STATE that they do not match for homosexual relationships until AFTER you have signed up and paid for the service.

    Think of this analogy. A gay person walks into an establishment for a service that for all intents should be available, for example the dry cleaning scenario. However, the business states we don't offer dry cleaning for homosexual goods, or even African-American customers. It's a dry cleaning business, yet they chose not to offer their services to a specific demographic. Certainly it is their right, however it is also their right to be sued for discrimination, which is exactly what this is. The analogies offered are not on par with the situation at hand. If a company is going to offer a dating service presummed to be "the best", then it needs to defend itself for not offering that service to other demographics. Just because it is "dating" and not "dry cleaning" or "car washing" or that other services such as "Manhunt" exist doesn't justify the decision. A lot of internet services seem to get away with more as these are "virtual" services and not face to face. That is, has this woman walked into an office and been physically turned away there would certainly be more of an uproar, but because this all occurred online as opposed to a physical business turning someone away people seem less inclined to feel a bit resented.

    As this is a lesbian lawsuit in particular holds more weight as there are very few dating services tailored to lesbian coupling. Many of the comments above suggest less sympathy for the woman as she is a lesbian (which is somewhat typical of the predominantly male homosexual community). If this had been a male homosexual bringing suit, perhaps the community might view this differently. Regardless, I believe there is some merit to this claim.

    Posted by: Cory | Jun 1, 2007 12:34:23 PM


  21. Sorry, odd that my comment got double posted, I only hit "post" once, so sorry 'bout that :(

    Posted by: Cory | Jun 1, 2007 12:37:10 PM


  22. Mark M, what Stephen wanted to say was that "gays can't have children naturally" and therefore shouldn't be allowed on regular people's dating websites. After all we are different and therefore should be kept separate at all times for the sake of the children. He's learned to be a bit more clever in how he says it but the bottom line is he still finds a way to work in the same old FoF talking point quackery that he always has.

    The analogy about a straight woman on Manhunt was much more intelligent and applicable.

    The thing that I find most annoying about eharmony's response to all of this was when they released a statement recently that said that gays were not discriminated against at their site because NO ONE, homosexual, bisexual or heterosexual was allowed to use eharmony to find a date of the same sex AND gays were perfectly free and encouraged to use the site to find dates of the opposite sex. I've heard that insulting argument before in the marriage equality debate.

    My only question is: How good can their "scientific" matching be if it can find the "perfect", female, ROMANTIC match, and marriage candidate for a gay man?

    Wouldn't this seriously cut into Exodus' and Love Won Out's match making territory?

    Posted by: Zeke | Jun 1, 2007 12:44:11 PM


  23. If she had to pay to find out she was never going to get a match she should sue for fraud and misrepresentation, not discrimination. A site like "manhunt" clearly broadcasts that you won't find women on the site for example, but if it said "matehunt" it might be more confusing. The paying first part is troubling.

    Posted by: anon (gmail.com) | Jun 1, 2007 2:18:40 PM


  24. I dont see how EHarmony allows for registration of homosexual profiles like you're saying Cody. The very first thing you fill out is

    I am a:

    Man seeking a Woman
    Woman seeking a Man

    Those are the only 2 choices. Thats it.

    I dont see how you can compare it to car washing or dry cleaning. We all drive the same cars, and wear the same clothes. Those are not specialty services. On the contrary, if you took your 1 million dollar Persian area rug to your corner dry cleaner, and they said "im sorry, we dont have the equipment to work on that fancy of a material..Try one of these other dry cleaners that does."..Is that still discriminatory, or is it simply saying that you should take your business to a place that can better serve you?

    Posted by: Chris | Jun 1, 2007 2:35:08 PM


  25. Sorry, Cory, not Cody.

    Posted by: Chris | Jun 1, 2007 2:38:18 PM


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