Under a proposed settlement filed January 26 in Los Angeles Superior Court, e-Harmony has agreed to link its separate homosexual and heterosexual websites together, and make its service to homosexuals more visible. The company also agreed to pay $500,000 to about 150 California plaintiffs named in a class-action suit, along with $1.5 million in court and attorney costs.
The homosexual Californians named as plaintiffs claim they were harmed by e-Harmony’s decision not to offer the same quality of service to homosexuals that it did to heterosexuals seeking matches. E-Harmony agreed to offer a website that is more “welcoming” to those seeing homosexual relationships, even though, according to the company’s attorneys, the company “does not stand alone among companies that provide their relationship-matching services to a single sexual orientation.” They noted that numerous websites exist for the sole purpose of initiating same-sex relationships.
The latest settlement requires that e-Harmony display its service to homosexuals, which was launched in 2009, “in a prominent position,” along with the company’s logo and a statement that the service is “brought to you by eHarmony” rather than merely “powered by eHarmony.” E-Harmony also agreed to add a category called “Gay and Lesbian Dating” to its main website to accompany its current categories, that include “Christian Dating,” “Black Dating,” “Jewish Dating,” “Hispanic Dating,” and “Senior Dating.”
As in 2008, when e-Harmony settled a law suit brought by New Jersey’s Civil Rights Division by agreeing to launch a dating website for homosexuals, the company once again chose to settle the case that had dragged on for more than two years.
Dr. Neal Clark Warren, a clinical psychologist and former dean at Fuller Theological Seminary, launched e-harmony.com in 2000, attributing its initial success to regular endorsements it received by Focus on the Family and other pro-family groups. But in recent years, Warren had parted ways with the pro-family group, and had striven to broaden its reach beyond Evangelicals and other Christians. “We’re trying to reach the whole world — people of all spiritual orientations, all political philosophies, all racial backgrounds,” he explained. What Warren hadn’t counted on was drawing the focus of homosexual activists, who saw e-Harmony as an irresistible target in their ongoing campaign to subvert the traditional institutions of marriage and family.
Several pro-family leaders expressed their disappointment in the way the company had surrendered to the attack, and even threatened to encourage singles to find “other dating services that have not sold out their God and their moral beliefs for the almighty dollar.” Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth called e-Harmony’s decision a “shame,” noting that the Boys Scouts of America had also been part of the earlier suit filed by the state of New Jersey, but took its case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and won.
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said of the case, “To those of us in the pro-family movement who hailed eHarmony’s commitment to the virtue of traditional marriage, the company’s actions are distressing and damaging.”