While the lyrics from the Beatles song may be true, it seems that for Eric McKinley, money can buy notoriety. Eric McKinley filed suit in 2005 against an online matchmaking service called eHarmony charging discrimination.
This week eHarmony settled McKinley’s lawsuit against them, and it cost more than money. $50,000 to the state for administrative costs and $5,000 to McKinley was what it cost eHarmony to settle a complaint that McKinley registered with the New Jersey civil rights division.
eHarmony is a Pasadena-based business started and owned by psychologist Neil Clark Warren, who is known for his mild-mannered television and radio advertisements. For years many satisfied subscribers have found their mates via the Internet. According to one claim, any day over 200 subscribers are wedding the partners they found on eHarmony. And now McKinley can look for his mate there too. As part of the settlement McKinley, a gay man, will be given free membership, and another 10,000 same-sex registrants will also be given a free six-month subscription.
McKinley seems to be satisfied with that:
“That was one of the things I asked for.”
McKinley said that when he tried to access and subscribe to eHarmony:
…he couldn’t. When he tried to enter the site, the pull-down menus had categories only for a man seeking a woman or a woman seeking a man. “I felt the whole range of emotions,” McKinley said. “Anger, that I was a second-class citizen.” [link:http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/technology/2008/11/eharmony-goes-g.html]
McKinley is not sure that he will even now subscribe to eHarmony to find a “soul mate.”
Call me naive but, as is mentioned in the LA Times story quoted, I have to wonder why McKinley was so insistent on battling eHarmony, when even a cursory skimming of my local paper shows a multitude of “dating” sites catering ONLY to gay seekers. In fact, just today, I can see that such sites vastly outnumber any ads that may be seen as serving the heterosexual community.
From my scant research it seems that gays are given MORE than equal opportunity through online sites to find a partner. I am thinking it is probably a good thing that McKinley doesn’t live in Canada – home of the Human Rights Commission. At least tax payers didn’t have to foot the bill for McKinley’s “range of emotions.”
The blogosphere is full of opinion on this turn of events.
From the Family Research Council:
eHarmony: Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places
The surest way to lose the culture war is refusing to fight. Unfortunately, no company illustrates that better than eHarmony, whose shocking concession to the homosexual movement is sending tremors through the faith community…. When the state’s attorney general pressed eHarmony about its policy, the company surrendered on the spot. Instead of fighting New Jersey’s unreasonable demands, eHarmony collapsed under the intimidation. …
To those of us in the pro-family movement…the company’s actions are distressing and damaging. Even legal experts on the Left agreed that McKinley didn’t have a case since Warren, as the owner of a private company, has a right to keep lawful limits on his clients…. Warren conceded significant moral ground, opening the door to a wave of attacks on other dating sites…[link: http://www.frc.org/get.cfm?i=WU08K12&f=RF07B06]
And it is not just pro-family groups that are dismayed by this latest “victory.” Yes, some of the Christian right are really disappointed at this giving a way of moral ground, as they see it, but on more than a few sites, even gays are more than a little disturbed by the ruling.
This may be claimed a victory for the minority gay community, but future ramifications of this ruling are sure to send shudders through every part of the business community. I have to wonder who ELSE will be challenged because a very small faction of the gay community feels slighted.
With the current protests on the Proposition 8 in California, more than a few ’empowered’ gays will, no doubt, be looking for other businesses to drag through the human rights tribunals and courts. Of course, it won’t matter that, just like eHarmony, businesses choosing who they do business with, are NOT breaking any laws. This ruling should send chills through ALL the business communities. It will be open season on any business who dares to hurt the “feelings” of a minority; that is, until even one business says “NO!” And that will be change I can believe in.
As the curse goes: we live in interesting times.