As dating websites go, eHarmony sets itself apart by offering technology-based matches based on “29 Dimensions of Compatibility” that have been confirmed by experts to play a role in creating long-lasting relationships. The company, which has long been serving the heterosexual community launched a gay dating site in 2009 called Compatible Partners, based upon the same principles. A recent court ruling, however, may be changing this duality.
Under a proposed settlement filed in the Los Angeles Superior Court on January 26th, eHarmony agreed to link its separate websites and better publicize that it offers gay dating services. Among the changes that eHarmony agreed to make are to change the language on their site to say that their gay online dating services are ‘brought to you by eHarmony’ instead of simply ‘powered by eHarmony’. In addition, eHarmony will add a section to its website specifically for gay dating, much like it currently offers “Jewish Dating,” “Senior Dating” and other types of targeted online dating options. As of now, this change has not yet been implemented, but I will be curious to see how they affect eHarmony, if at all.
What makes this case interesting (in my opinion) is that while gay rights activists insist that mainstream online dating sites such as eHarmony expand their offerings to provide gay dating services, sites such as gay.com have not yet been required to add services for heterosexual singles. Likewise, neither Jewish dating sites nor Christian dating sites have been forced to expand their services to include singles of other religions.
While I’m thrilled about this ‘victory’ for gay rights, I am a bit puzzled as to whether eHarmony’s previous behavior was truly offensive. Wouldn’t gay singles enjoy finding matches on a site designed just for them? Isn’t that why gay online dating sites have grown in leaps and bounds over the past few years? I’m curious to hear what you think about this, as the issue is quite provocative and one that is sure to continually evolve in the coming years. It’ll be interesting to see if other dating websites will be compelled to change their policies as well.