eHarmony advertises that they want to “move beyond traditional online dating.” For some reason, that phrase strikes me as a bit ironic. It doesn’t get much more “traditional” than the process one goes through at eHarmony. However, if you’re gay you can forget about it.

Linda Carlson is suing the relationship site for discrimination. Her lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court based on the fact that she was denied access because she is gay. Carlson’s lawyers believe the suit to be the first of it’s kind against the internet’s largest dating site of 12 million members. The company issued this statement in response to the suit.

“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.”

The founder of eHarmony, Dr. Neil Clark Warren is a psychologist with a divinity degree. He was initially affiliated with Focus on the Family, and the site was promoted as being “based on the Christian principles of Focus on the Family author Dr. Neil Clark Warren.” However, Dr. Warren began to distance himself from FOTF and Dr. Dobson back in 2005, claiming among other things that they were becoming too narrowly political for the dating site. He stopped radio appearances with them and bought back the rights to the books he’d written for them.

“We’re trying to reach the whole world — people of all spiritual orientations, all political philosophies, all racial backgrounds,” Warren says. “And if indeed, we have Focus on the Family on the top of our books, it is a killer. Because people do recognize them as occupying a very precise political position in this society and a very precise spiritual position.”

In an interview on National Public Radio Dr. Warren said,

I have a deep desire for gays and lesbians to be matched well if they’re going to be together. I had some people come to me who were actually gays, and they wanted to know how I would advise that they try to build a site to do a good job. And I spent a lot of time with them talking about the need for research, the need to look at what really does work for gays and lesbians in terms of the couples and how you develop research instruments that will help them to do that job well. And I’ve tried to be helpful in those ways, but we’ve taken the position that right now we don’t choose to [match gays and lesbians].

If you listen to the entire interview you’ll find that Dr. Warren spends a good deal of time explaining that eHarmony serves Wiccans, apparently as a way to deflect inquiries about their policy on not matching gay couples. He indicates that he’s not done enough research about same sex coupling and that he imagines the principles of coupling might be different. Hmmm, I’ll leave that discussion for the comments.

The questionnaire at eHarmony is quite lengthy, and I know because I’ve filled it out. Yes, yours truly has been a member of eHarmony for a few months now. I know I can be a bit of a Pollyanna at times, but for me, it’s been a really great experience. The “29 dimensions” have really worked for me in finding compatible matches. Or, maybe I’m just desperately lonely. You can find horror stories about practically anything.

A competing site, Chemistry, has recently used the fact that eHarmony shuns gays as a marketing tool (example above). Chemistry does match gay couples, as does Dr. Phil’s

I should point out for the ex-gays that none of the online matching services discriminate against you.

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