eHarmony — a dating service founded by Neil Clark Warren to serve the pre-marital dating desires of conservative evangelicals — has settled an antidiscrimination complaint in New Jersey by setting up a separate-and-unequal dating site for sexual minorities.
Ex-gay industry pundits promptly sought to exploit the news.
Peter LaBarbera accused the gay man who filed the lawsuit of exploiting New Jersey’s “special rights law” — even though the state law equally protects residents regardless of their gender, race, or sexual orientation. LaBarbera further took the opportunity to distort Exodus International officials’ position that sexual attraction is an “identity” that can be changed as easily as one changes one’s political party label or denominational identity:
Evidence that homosexuality is a behavior ‚Äî and not an “identity” ‚Äî issue can be found in the many ex-gays and ex-lesbians who have found freedom from homosexuality through Christ ‚Äî and true love and marriage with a member of the opposite sex.
No one at Exodus has corrected LaBarbera.
Meanwhile, Focus on the Family — whose supporters have, until now, used eHarmony to sanitize their pre-marital sexual desires — sought to project its allies’ questionable morals onto government:
“It’ basically the power of the government being used to force people across the country to accept beliefs that they know are not moral,” said Kelly Shackelford, president of the Free Market Foundation and chief counsel of the Liberty Legal Institute. “It’ an attack on freedom, and people better get ready to fight.”
I have yet to find a gay activist that fully supports the settlement. Personally, I would prefer to know that a company is antigay before I do business with it. I don’t want to be diverted by the company to an afterthought website for second-class citizens — and while I don’t believe businesses should be permitted to harass or fire workers on the basis of a minority status, I’m not sure I really want government to force companies to pretend to be tolerant toward clients when they’re not.
Advocates of equality and freedom will continue to shame eHarmony (and Focus on the Family) for their ongoing opposition to equality and moral consistency. But perhaps gay dating services should begin to wonder whether they might soon be forced to cater to the desires of antigay fundamentalists.
The best course of action may be to support dating services that don’t discriminate in either direction: Services, such as Chemistry.com, that focus on relationship-building and not the gender — or genitals — of their clients.