Eharmony sued for discriminating against queer community

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I’ve written before about how eHarmony’s ads pitch a product that’s exclusively about nice American people with American accents finding traditional same-race chaste marital love, and everyone else can go jump off a bridge. And about how it appealed to the male gaze with commercials featuring men suffering through bad dates until they throw those damn women out of their homes in the middle of dinner. Now, you and I might think yelling “Get out of my house!” at someone you invited is rude.

But Dr. Warren, founder of eHarmony, is an evangelical Christian. Not a regular Christian, mind you – not the sadly under-hyped type that reads Jesus’ words, gets the message of love (even loving sinners! no, seriously!) and concentrates more on leading an exemplary life than on excluding or punishing those they disagree with. No, he’s the type of Christian who reads select bits of the Old Testament and gets out of them that women should appeal to men, or be punished.

He also has the idea that the Jesus who said “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s” would like him to operate his business in California even though he his service rejects non-heterosexual applicants, in conflict with California anti-discrimination laws. Forget debates about homosexuality in the Bible and all that – Warren has right to believe whatever he believes. But the founder of his own religion advises him not to place himself above the law.

Greed is the sole issue here. Warren could have pitched his service as one strictly for people looking for marriage, run it only in those states that don’t allow gay marriage, and avoided this entire mess quite legally. But that would cut out the profits he can earn from people who are just looking to date, or learn better selection strategies. No, he chose to present the service as open to anyone looking for real love when it’s clearly not.

I tested eHarmony a while back, just out of curiosity, and felt just as “othered” as I do in the offline heterosexual community that thinks my priorities are “wrong”. The one thing eHarmony has no metric for is the one thing I require: a lack of in-the-box stereotyped thinking. Oh, they offered me communists, because to people who pattern their lives after Father Knows Best communists and anarchist feminists sound pretty much alike.

It’s a shit system, and really, the queer community isn’t missing anything. But it should be their choice to give it a miss, point fingers and laugh.

Comments

  1. sbg says

    Ugh.

    I tried eHarmony for a while, a couple of years back when I struggled with the “why do only freaks flock to me?” question. I thought if I tried a dating site with high success (just like they say on TV!), maybe I’d figure it out.

    Well, I still ponder the question.

    It must work for someone, but I’m a total skeptic. Sure, they match you up based on information you provide about yourself, but the thing for me was this pervading paranoia that it didn’t really keep liars from lying. That and I find I’m the person least likely to see myself as others probably do, so every personality-determining question I answered was tainted by this. If mine was…

    Anyway.

    But Dr. Warren, founder of eHarmony, is an evangelical Christian. Not a regular Christian, mind you – not the sadly under-hyped type that reads Jesus’ words, gets the message of love (even loving sinners! no, seriously!) and concentrates more on leading an exemplary life than on excluding or punishing those they disagree with. No, he’s the type of Christian who reads select bits of the Old Testament and gets out of them that women should appeal to men, or be punished.

    Ugh. Of course, we don’t really know how he practices his faith, but lately anyone just saying the “E” word makes me shudder and run away in fear. I do believe people have the right to believe whatever they want to believe…where I run into problems is when people insist on saving the world, id est trying to make everyone else believe the same as them.

    Clearly a gay man or a lesbian woman doesn’t deserve any (e)harmony in their lives simply because they don’t fit in the box win which this guy and his ilk want to keep everyone.

  2. Jennifer Kesler says

    I know what I said might sound prejudiced, but I think we’re actually seeing how this guy practices his faith. e’s not beating up drag queens, but he is aggressively othering people he’s decided he has a right to judge…. when he could have simply left them out of the process peacefully by marketing his service as “marriage” rather than “dating”, and only in the vast majority of states that disallow gay marriage (including CA). But that would have significantly impacted his earnings.

    Either he’s putting greed ahead of the Biblical injunction to follow the laws of man unless they actually force you to disclaim your faith, or he’s purposely othering people to let them know they’re undeserving.

  3. sbg says

    I know what I said might sound prejudiced, but

    I think we’re actually seeing how this guy practices his faith. e’s not beating up drag queens, but he is aggressively othering people he’s decided he has a right to judge…. when he could have simply left them out of the process peacefully by marketing his service as “marriage” rather than “dating”, and only in the vast majority of states that disallow gay marriage (including CA). But that would have significantly impacted his earnings.

    True enough!

  4. Jennifer Kesler says

    LOL, Nialla! I did see the one where the woman’s asking if she’s a good person, but this one’s much funnier.

    Actually, I may have to read up on Chemistry a bit, for contrast with eHarmony, because just from a cursory glance at the site, I found this from an article asking if marriage is dead:

    And marriage is not dead. In fact, United Nations data on 97 societies indicates that over 90% of men and women in most societies wed by age 45. But it is metamorphosing into many supple, varied patterns. Most important is the rise of the 21st century marriage form, what sociologists call the symmetrical, companionate or peer marriage: marriage between equals.

    At the very least, she’s paying lip service to an ideal that would be a lot healthier than what we’ve had traditionally.

  5. Jess says

    If the site was for marriage only wouldn’t he still have homosexuals signing up? Isn’t marriage more about commitment than anything else? I know several gay people who refer to themselves as married even though gay marriage is not legal in my state. So if one was looking for commited long term relationship that he/she defined as marriage wouldn’t by the rules of the site they be allowed to sign up there? I guess it could be legal marriage only, but I think Warren’d still be in trouble. He could’ve marketed it was an evangelical dating site. That would’ve hurt his bottom line though.

    Everybody’s entitled to their opinions, even if I find them offensive. It seems to me, though that if you don’t want to facilitate homosexual relationships, you probably shouldn’t be in the onling dating biz.

  6. Nialla says

    I did see the one where the woman’s asking if she’s a good person, but this one’s much funnier.

    That one cracked me up because she starts out with, “I wonder if it’s because of my late fees at the library?” It’s roundabout PR for libraries, so I’ll take it. ;)

    But the “Nope, still gay” ad just totally wins.

  7. Jennifer Kesler says

    I guess it could be legal marriage only, but I think Warren’d still be in trouble. He could’ve marketed it was an evangelical dating site. That would’ve hurt his bottom line though.

    You may be right that limiting it to legal marriage wouldn’t have helped. But one way or another, the problem is that he’s marketing true love without specifics, but then delivering only opposite-sex matches. If he marketed the service as het-only – there are gay dating services, after all, so nothing wrong with that – no one seeking “true love” with their own gender would have had the expectation of finding it through eHarmony.

    It seems to me, though that if you don’t want to facilitate homosexual relationships, you probably shouldn’t be in the onling dating biz.

    There you go. I think Warren’s goal is to promote heterosexual Christian marriage, but he doesn’t want to restrict his profits to just those who are seeking a heterosexual Christian marriage. So he’s made his bed in the hypocrite ward.

    That one cracked me up because she starts out with, “I wonder if it’s because of my late fees at the library?” It’s roundabout PR for libraries, so I’ll take it. ;)

    Ah, I missed the beginning of it when I saw it. :) That whole campaign is a clever approach.

  8. says

    The rumor is also that if you’re an aethist or strictly non-religious, the site can’t/won’t match you. My older sister filled out all their information and was given a message at the end saying, “Sorry, you’re one of roughly 20%* of people who we don’t currently have a match for.” She’d heard it was unable to match the non-religious before, and her results (no interest in church, faith, etc) kind of confirmed that. It could be for other reasons, as the message didn’t say, but I’m pretty sure I’ve heard that particular rumor elsewhere.

    *I think that’s the number but don’t recall entirely.

  9. Jennifer Kesler says

    I started with the totally non-religious setting and did get matches. Changing it to the “spiritual” category got a lot more matches.

    Some of this, however, may be due to other users gaming the system. People have all these theories about how to get matches.

    What blew my mind was when you, as a woman, say “NO” you don’t want kids, they give you guys who have said YES anyway! “Maybe” I can understand, but not Yes. Of course, it turns out none of the men really care if they have kids or not once you discuss it with them. That question was very helpful in determining who was just trying to say what he assumed women wanted to hear and who was being honest. ;)

  10. Metta says

    I’d risk saying they outright discriminate against non-Christians, too. Hard to prove, but if you want anecdotal evidence, I’ve got it.

    I did the profile, just because personality quizzes make me smile; as soon as I saw there were no options for the ambisextrous, I knew it would be a time-waster anyway. When I got to the religion section, I didn’t mark Christian as one of my accepted groups to pull dates from, and at the end I got that 20% message Reb mentioned – I was rejected, in other words.

    Curious, I navigated back and checked Christian. The result changed to “We don’t have any matches right now, but if you want to receive future matches….etc.” – suddenly I was no longer rejected completely, just not instantly matchable.

    Gee, I wonder why that happened.

  11. Jennifer Kesler says

    I’ve heard that story from more than a few people, Metta. Of course an evangelical Christian would discriminate against non-Christians. He perceives that as his calling in life, to force people to Jesus.

  12. Metta says

    If I’d had any idea at the time about his religious leanings, I doubt I’d have bothered with the site at all. Fair or not, I just kind of assume those people don’t have much to offer me.

  13. Jennifer Kesler says

    I think it’s fair. The Christian thing to do would be to market the site AS Christian, if that’s your leaning. The evangelical thing to do would be to present the site as open to everyone, then frustrate the hell out of people who don’t meet your criteria, thereby punishing them for not being just like you.

    I want to stress again for people reading, it’s not the man’s Christianity I take issue with – not at all. It’s his evangelicism, a movement defined by the urge and entitlement to force one’s views on others.

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