eHarmony’s settlement with the New Jersey Division of Civil Rights (NJDCR) showed that the company’s corporate bottom-line pandering to the homosexual market trumps society’s traditional view of marriage. Perhaps eHarmony desired to open up a one-stop, all-inclusive dating service from the beginning, but it just lacked the impetus to wade into controversial waters. Whatever the reason, as of March 31, 2009, it will launch Compatible Partners, a service designed to cater to the gay and lesbian community.
The settlement arose out of a dispute in 2005 when New Jersey resident Eric McKinley filed a complaint against eHarmony.com alleging discrimination based on his sexual orientation. McKinley, a homosexual, felt oppressed when the private corporation, eHarmony, obstinately did not offer an option allowing him to find his own “match”. After three years of litigation, the dating website caved. It settled with the NJDCR for $50,000 and paid McKinley $5,000. It also agreed to launch Compatible Partners.
Lest eHarmony purport to be the victim, the site was not under unbearable pressure to offer a same-sex dating service. Rather, it was a strategic decision to garner more revenue to the already immensely profitable website. It could have ceased to operate in New Jersey, solicited support by other organizations, or even adopted the radical notion of fighting the meritless claim.
If conservatives are to regain national prominence, it will require the support of corporations standing for basic institutions: marriage perhaps as society’s cornerstone. Conservative change occurs not only in the courtroom or legal area, but also in the corporate culture. eHarmony is evidence of this change, a model of how to relinquish traditional values. Buckling under the threat of opposition is not a step in the right direction. Pun intended.