eHarmony & Compatible Partners

I just saw my sister-in-law Alice and Brother-in-law Erwin over the Christmas Holiday. They were one of those internet couples. Specifically they met on eHarmony. When I heard that my sister-in-law was putting her profile up on e-harmony I was a little skeptical. Its not that I had anything against e-Harmony, but I honestly didn’t understand why people couldn’t meet someone in person. I got over it, especially when I thought more about the way Americans do relationships nowadays and juxtaposed that to the arranged marriages of different culture and previous generations.

A few months ago I heard that Eric McKinley was suing eHarmony because they did not have provisions for those seeking for same sex relationships. I flippantly dismissed the issue and went on with life, until I read a CNN article reporting that eHarmony had settled for $50,000 and was to  start a same-sex site called Compatible Partners before March 31st.

I am a little perplexed by all of this. I can comprehend the desire for the LGBT community to want to have an online relationship service. However, I don’t understand why eHarmony  felt the need to back off of their previous stance of being a heterosexual site. eHarmony is private company, it has the right to market towards certain individuals and not to others. It is not discriminating the LGBT community, it is not set up for the LGBT community. eHarmony creating another cite for the LGBT community is like forcing dockers into making jeans for the “typical” African-American body-types – I as well as several of my African-American friends can’t wear dockers our legs are too big.  That is just not who they market to or whose bodies fit into those jeans.

Originally, eHarmony had deep connections to Focus on the Family, and Warren attributes much of eHarmony’s initial success to its promotion on the daily radio broadcast of Focus on the Family. However as eHarmony grew, Warren parted ways with Focus on the Family. In 2005, Warren stopped utilizing Dobson’s radio show and bought back rights to three of his books — Finding the Love of Your Life, Make Anger Your Ally, and Learning to Live with the Love of Your Life — originally published by Focus on the Family.

My thought is that is that Warren, who I believe is a Christian, realizes that  there will be a large market in the LGBT community – there is nothing as good as this for the LGBT community. His profit motive is perhaps greater than his personal beliefs (perhaps his beliefs have changed).

I observe this and ask , what does this all mean? Can a group change a private institution? Lets say higher education. Can I sue Hollins or Spelman because they do not except men?  It honestly makes me worried about what will and won’t be legislated. Will a Christian secondary school or College be forced to higher someone of different values (be they homosexual or something else)? I wouldn’t expect to be hired by an organization like the ACLU, or Planned Parenthood and I believe that those groups have the right to do that.

I think this is wrong, backwards and unjust. If our private institutions – of various types – can be regulated so strictly, why allow there to be private institutions?  The government can support both private and public institutions. Even ones that are ideologically in conflict. Isn’t that essential to diversity?

While I am an advocate for the rights of the LGBT community and believe that they have been treated unjustly in the past I also think that managing freedom is complicated – in my mind, there is technically  such thing as 100% freedom.  Beliefs will be in conflict, people will disagree, even deeply. The United States is not a mono-ideological nation. We have to seriously acknowledge that and live with those ramifications.

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  1. Barely anybody agrees with eHarmony’s decision to settle.
    http://www.pinoy.ca/eharmony/1245

    • harold
    • October 5th, 2009

    sectrian is evil, we are all children of God. including gays. If focus on family life, support is much more needed because of the 50 divorce rate. Family = children of God. Not one that holds just for a few years.

  2. Harold, I would agree that Christians – not necessarily Focus on the Family – need to be paying more attention to the horrid divorce rate in both the “secular” world and the “Christian” world – although they way America defines Christian is a little loose in my mind and in generally it is hard to pinpoint. I think we are big talk/little walk as far as divorce goes and we don’t articulate the overt biblical reasons not to divorce and the social reasons not to divorce. We simply aren’t good at it – I would argue because it is an area where Christians have allowed the culture of individualism, pleasure and immediacy to impact our view of Marriage. However, I will argue that there are many more Christians talking about good marriages, faithful relationships and long lasting families than non Christians.

    The more important point is that this shouldn’t have happened. E Harmony should have never have had its arm twisted like that. I wonder, if someone created an LGBT site and heterosexuals complained because they wanted to use it, would the argument of discrimination stand? I honestly don’t think so – and wouldn’t think it should.

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