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Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Gays Sue eHarmony

posted by on May 31 at 13:18 PM

I’ve received numerous complaints at “Savage Love” from various homos upset about eHarmony’s anti-gay policies. The popular dating website—founded by a Christian conservative, promoted by an extremely annoying ad campaign—doesn’t take ads from “men seeking men” or “women seeking women.” eHarmony also doesn’t acknowledge the possibility that some of members may be bisexual because, as the founder says, he’s not an expert on same-sex dating.


Well now someone is suing the old bigot.

A lawsuit alleging discrimination based on sexual orientation was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on behalf of Linda Carlson, who was denied access to eHarmony because she is gay.

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.

It was inevitable, of course. But I never wrote about eHarmony because their exclusionary policies never really exercised me. It’s not as if there’s a dearth of gay dating websites out there—and does anyone know if,,,,,, etc., accept ads from “men seeking women” and “women seeking men”? I don’t have time to check ‘em all out but, gee, I kinda doubt it.

There’s room on God’s green Internet for gay personals websites and straight personals websites—just as there’s room in the real world for gay bars and straight bars, gay porn companies and straight porn companies, gay rodeos and straight rodeos. It’s not like homos are exactly under-served in this area—there are almost too many queer personals websites out there. And so if the breeders wanna have one all to themselves, well, what’s the harm in it?

Don’t get me wrong: I think eHarmony’s anti-gay, anti-lesbians, and anti-bi policies are offensive and idiotic—not to mention bad business practices. Queers are big users of Internet personals—if I owned eHarmony stock I’d be pissed. But I hardly think eHarmony is worth the trouble of suing. Unless, of course, we’re going to insist that Lesbotronic and Slave4Master and Dudesnude, etc., all start accepting ads from “men seeking women” and “women seeking men.”

RSS icon Comments


More harm than good, this lawsuit. If you don't like the way they work then don't use them. It's not like there are no other options.

Posted by monkey | May 31, 2007 1:39 PM

I don't what pressurng eHarmony to pair up gays would accomplish. It's clear they don't want to; if forced to, does anyone believe they will provide a level of service that would be worth buying?

Posted by tsm | May 31, 2007 1:48 PM

Didn't you just say *this morning* that gay bars shouldn't be able to restrict their patronage to men?

And now you're saying that dating sites should be able to restrict their clients to breeders? That must be a new record for Stranger turnaround..

Posted by genevieve | May 31, 2007 1:49 PM

In this case, I've have to side with Jim Crow idiom "separate but equal"

Posted by hunh? | May 31, 2007 1:49 PM

Good catch, Gen. But I said they shouldn't--not that they shouldn't be able to, just that they shouldn't. And for the same reasons: bad business practices. Go re-read my AM post, and then this one. There's no conflict.

Posted by Dan Savage | May 31, 2007 1:54 PM

The commercials ARE annoying and they're ubiquitous as well. And you know, there is that hint of "We've found someone to breed with" permeating throughout.

The irritation factor is the same with the Sandals Resorts commercials. Those resorts don't allow gay couples - just heteros - to spooge up their suites. How'd you like to have to change the sheets at a Sandals Resort, eh?

It pisses me off because it's just one more little slap in the face saying, "You aren't one of us." It's demeaning even though you'd NEVER catch me checking-in at Sandals.

Posted by Bauhaus | May 31, 2007 1:57 PM

@3 -- It didn't read to me that they shouldn't be allowed to restrict their patronage, just that it was not a wise idea to do so. I don't see where it benefits anyone for eHarmony to change their policy, just like I don't see how I or any other straight would benefit if a dating site tailored for gays changed their policy. If you can explain a benefit, I might change my mind.

@2 -- That's the first thing that came to my mind, too.

Posted by Jean | May 31, 2007 1:59 PM

This lawsuit sounds like ax grinding on the plaintiff's part, unless eHarmony's methods really are scientific (which I kinda doubt).

Posted by Matt from Denver | May 31, 2007 2:05 PM

Don't they discriminate against the god-challenged as well? Or has that been debunked?

Posted by dirge | May 31, 2007 2:06 PM

the sandals policy was changed:

Posted by jkjk | May 31, 2007 2:09 PM

I don't think I've ever seen a person of color on any of eHarmony's commercials either. They seem to cater to white Christians. I have a friend who is an Atheist who got rejected from eHarmony, despite the fact she is beautiful and an executive for a NW company. I told her to stick to the Stranger's personals.

Posted by elswinger | May 31, 2007 2:50 PM

I always thought eharmony's goal was to marry people off. So if they allowed gay men and women to be members, it'd defeat their purpose. Not saying that I agree, just playing devil's advocate. There are tons of dating sites, so suing seems pointless. If gay marriages became legal and eHarmony still rejected applications based on sexual preference, then I'd say you have a lawsuit on your hands. Maybe...

Posted by faux show | May 31, 2007 2:51 PM

Really? It seems that half of the people on the eHarmony sites are people of color.

Trust me on this; I watch a lot of late night television.

Posted by what? | May 31, 2007 2:53 PM

@ 11 there is a black couple in their latest ad.

@ 9 not sure if it's written in their TOS but the questionnaire is definitely set up in favor of Christianity. So it'd be no surprise if people were rejected for not having certain beliefs/morals.

Posted by faux show | May 31, 2007 2:55 PM

sorry, but comparing eHarmony to is like comparing the Donnie and Marie Show to a Nine Inch Nails Video.

Posted by jameyb | May 31, 2007 2:57 PM

...and apparantely they also discriminate against short men. Way to go, "e"!

On April 2, 2007, NOSSA called for a boycott of the online dating website eHarmony. Their press release cited:

"Suspicions have been confirmed after numerous tests indicated that the exact same responses to the website’s membership questionnaire, with the exception of physical height, resulted in either approval of membership (when an acceptable tall height was submitted) or denial of membership (when a short height was submitted). These tests were conducted numerous times to ensure accuracy. The National Organization Of Short Statured Adults has requested a full explanation from the company but has yet to receive a response."

Posted by fs | May 31, 2007 3:00 PM

OHMYGOD, i am joining NOSSA right away!

Posted by longball | May 31, 2007 3:23 PM

Several years ago I used to work for a company in Bellevue that was not eHarmony, but pretty much went by the same practices: compatibility test, no homosexual couplings, no shorties (men), and positively nobody broke (because they charged anywhere from five hundred to two-thousand dollars for these people to be paired up. And actually, that should read ugly people. Sweet Jesus, the pictures made my stomach turn.)

That said, I don't see what the big deal is. They're not the only dating site on the web and if they can't cater to you, they can't make money off of you, a key for businesses to, you know, stay in business.

Posted by Jason Josephes | May 31, 2007 3:38 PM

I've never seen the allure of eharmony for straight or gay people.

But I suppose if you were a conservative Christian gay person ... well you know whose dating service you COULD use? Sean Hannity's Hannidate. He's happy to serve the gays!

Posted by arduous | May 31, 2007 4:04 PM

Thanks for the update, jkjk. That's nice to know.

I'm missing something here. Isn't there a world of difference between, "Truthfully? We don't get much interest here for gay match-ups, but we'll be happy to take your application if you want to file one," and, "No gays!"?

I mean, really. Who'd want anything to do with eHarmony anyway. That smarmy, syrupy old codger who acts like he gets a semi at the thought of all the coupling he'll going to be doing throughout the day - so excited is he that he'd almost be willing to do it for free, right? Ka-ching.

Posted by Bauhaus | May 31, 2007 4:07 PM

Between rejecting gays, atheists, and short men, are there any Stranger readers eligible for eHarmony? (I suspect tall women are kicked out too)

I've also heard about Christians complaining about eHarmony insisting on setting them up with ugly/poor/stupid/fat fellow parishioners they had already rejected in person.

Posted by anna | May 31, 2007 6:40 PM

Yap yap yap. Have any of you actually gone and tried the eHarmony site? The online form takes anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes to fill out, and it's the biggest load of psychobabble/Christian B.S. you've ever seen. I know, because I had to research their site.

Contrast this with you can get a handful of tweaking manorexic homos delivered to your apartment within a matter of seconds after signing in. Now that I think of it, I think I'll just stick to picking up guys on the street, the way God intended.

Posted by Boomer in NYC | May 31, 2007 7:06 PM

Couldn't agree with Dan more... what's wrong with a little freedom to not associate? Not everything needs nor should be inclusive to ever single damn fucking person who shows up asking to be let in. Democracy in action... just as long as they aren't dicks about it, tho. There are laws against those sorts of shenanigans.

Posted by phenics | May 31, 2007 9:49 PM

I DO remember though several years ago that when they were first challenged, EHarmony fired back with some convoluted line about their 57,000,000 points of compatibility (or whatever their 'scientific' method was) worked only for heterosexual coupling. I was curious and did the free questionaire - not one damn thing that couldn't apply to me. If only for their lack of any kind of honesty or balls, I hope she sues the pants off them! (Or maybe she can settle in court to make that creepy-looking founder-guy never star in the commercials again!!)

Posted by Phil | May 31, 2007 10:08 PM

the marketplace is already is already making fun of's antigay policy.

Posted by Andy Niable | May 31, 2007 10:09 PM

well all i know is that i do a bunch of different online market research type of things (you take a survey, go to a website, get an email, whatever, get points - i like to fuck with them sometimes - plus it's fun to think that i could be making $250,000 a year when it's not even one tenth of that in all honesty) and one of them had an offer for points if i clicked over to eharmony's site - so i did, and having NOT been subjected to their commercials i thought that i'd look into what kind of women seeking women they might have. well when i saw that there wasn't a way to put in that i was a woman seeking a woman, i wrote an email to them...what'd i get in response? here ya go:

eHarmony Customer Care
to me

Mar 29

Dear Sir or Madam,

Thank you for contacting

eHarmony provides an Internet relationship service with a patented matching system designed to match highly compatible men and women who are seeking a long-term relationship. eHarmony's patented matching system is premised on over 35 years of clinical practice and empirical study with opposite-sex couples about the similarities and differences between men and women and what leads to a successful opposite-sex relationship. eHarmony has not developed the same long-term research on the most successful same-sex unions. For that reason, eHarmony does not provide online matching services to persons seeking only same-sex matches. It does not, however, prevent anyone from accessing the website, filling out the Relationship Questionnaire, and receiving the free Personality Profile.


Customer Relations

***end quoted material***

so so i could STILL go on and do all their damn tests and get their fawkin' profile...but i'd have to say that i was a woman seeking a man FIRST...

Posted by jezbian | May 31, 2007 11:43 PM

eHarmany is not a good deal for most people : You'll start only a couple conversations per month there. You can have several conversations per day on most other sites. Why do you imagine that eHarmany's computers are better than you at making choices about your love life?

[ full disclosure : I work for an eHarmany competitor. ]

Posted by X | June 1, 2007 1:00 AM

Don't forget OutPersonals...

Posted by Mike in MO | June 1, 2007 9:07 AM

What the world seems to think is that it's okay for people to be exclusive to minorities, but not to majorities. For example: there are blacks-only colleges. Are there whites-only? Of course not, because that would be considered racist. Same here. eHarmony will probably get in trouble for this, and I think they're idiotic homophobes. And I think the lawsuit is good for the gay rights movement. The world will probably never accept the majorities-only establishments.

Posted by Sharp | June 1, 2007 5:57 PM

I agree with you on the general principles, Dan. I see no reason why a dating site shouldn't cater to a particular demographic if it so chooses. But, while I can't say I exactly have the time to test the forty million gay personals sites, I can say that I think there is a difference between eHarmony's practices and those of, say, I don't think that S4M would remove a profile of a woman seeking a man. You could certainly make one. eHarmony, however, requires you to meet a series of standards for admission in the first place (not unlike those yet-to-be-sued speed dating services that set up wealthy men with beautiful women.) A woman probably wouldn't join S4M (except to rent out her slaveboy) for the simple reason that she wouldn't find it to be very lucrative. But I'm pretty much certain she could DO it if she wanted to.

Again, eHarmony can have whatever policies it wants regarding customers. But I don't know of any gay male personals site that actually BANS women from joining. And I think that difference is at least worth acknowledging, even if it doesn't really matter much.

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