When most people think of online dating, sites like eHarmony.com or Match.com spring to mind. Until recently, however, eHarmony.com did not have an option for people with same sex attractions to meet potential mates online.
The announcement on November 20th came after the New Jersey attorney general settled a lawsuit with eHarmony Inc. filed in 2005 by a man named Eric McKinley, who felt discriminated against after he tried to sign up for the dating site, only to find out the options for finding partners were exclusively geared toward heterosexuals.The new website, called Compatible Partners, has until March 31st, 2009 to launch.
Dating matchmakers who were already accepting gay clientele applaud this move as a positive step forward for acceptance of LGB individuals. However, the change still doesn’t involve full inclusion of the entire LGBTQ rainbow; the gender selections available on eHarmony.com still exclude transgender or genderqueer folk because of the traditional man/women dichotomy of gender options.
A Victory For The LGB Community?
While this ruling may be seen as a victory for the LGB community, the site’s original exclusion of gay and lesbian (and perhaps bisexual) individuals seems to be a business choice based on the owner’s personal beliefs. There are tons of dating sites with very specific target audiences (Google your favorite fetish to see the options), including a wide variety of LGBTQ friendly or LGBTQ only sites, so why was this change so important?
I think the sheer popularity of eHarmony.com and its omnipresent television ads makes this decision an important one. Dating is something people of all sexual orientations experience at one time or another in their lives, including the sometimes arduous, painful, and sometimes embarrasing task of meeting a new partner. So why should those already facing discrimination in other areas of their lives (workplace, school, housing) have to deal with exclusion from a service designed to better their lives by introducing them to new, compatible people to date?
What Do You Think?
So what do you think about this development? Could it change the face of online dating?