November 20, 2008

What is that called again? The "First Amendment?"

The well-known eHarmony Internet dating website has been sued -- a gay man got miffed that the company refused to hook him up with another gay man. eHarmony decided to settle (a common tactic in these overly litigious days) due to cost and "unpredictability" concerns.

[Plaintiff Eric] McKinley, who works at a nonprofit in New Jersey he declined to identify, said that he had originally heard of EHarmony through its radio ads. "You hear these wonderful people saying, 'I met my soul mate on EHarmony.' I thought, I could do that too," he said.

But 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."

But instead of just surfing over to a dating site that admits gay lonely hearts, he contacted the New Jersey civil rights division to file a complaint.

The settlement also calls for EHarmony to pay $50,000 to the state for administrative costs and $5,000 to McKinley.

This "second-class citizen" claim is nonsense. See what I bolded above. I'm surprised McKinley didn't sue for the "added time it would take to surf over to gays-only dating site." This precedent is dangerous. Simply put, it means that specialized businesses had better be on the lookout for litigants demanding that companies change their business model to suit what these litigants want. Period.

Michelle Malkin ponders:

This case is akin to a meat-eater suing a vegetarian restaurant for not offering him a ribeye or a female patient suing a vasectomy doctor for not providing her hysterectomy services.

She later adds: "Perhaps heterosexual men and women should start filing lawsuits against gay dating websites and undermine their business. Coerced tolerance and diversity-by-fiat cut both ways."

Yes, it does.

Posted by Hube at November 20, 2008 03:54 PM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

not shocking you would be on par with Malkin's line of thinking.

So I guess you are ok with them not allowing black people to use their site too?

Posted by: donviti at November 20, 2008 10:12 PM

A simple comment from an even simpler mind.

Maybe you should listen to Mike Matthew's take on the matter, dimwitty. He agrees with me and Malkin. IOW, are there not gay dating sites? Should these sites be forced to hook up straight people? Why or why not? eHarmony, if I read correctly, is a Christian-oriented heterosexual dating site. Thus, they wouldn't have an issue dealing with black heterosexuals.

There are sites specializing in black dating, dimwitty. Should whites sue those sites and demand they hook them up with other whites? And aside from your substanceless attack on the messenger, as Malkin states, should vegetarian stores/restaurants be forced to serve meat? Etc.?

Oh, and I'll tell your pansy little self what I told pandora elsewhere: NO ONE from your cretinous site can ever impugn the motives or integrity of ANYONE ever again. Period.

You're all scum of the lowest order.

Posted by: Hube at November 20, 2008 10:27 PM

In addition, I believe the matter of "public accommodation" would apply here. IOW, denying one an Internet dating service isn't anything like denying service in public accommodation like a restaurant or hotel. In fact, Malkin's point about vegetarian restaurants is a much more valid comparison.

Not that you'd actually understand what I just wrote there, dimwitty.

Posted by: Hube at November 20, 2008 10:31 PM

Michele Malkin's comment struck a chord although I have no doubt few, if any, would agree with my comparison...that we allowed the govt. to dictate how any and all restaurateurs/bars could and should conduct their business, whether they wanted to or not...by banning smoking.

Posted by: Nancy Cleveland at November 20, 2008 11:54 PM

Nancy, you are correct in that I don't see your comparison as valid. Second-hand smoke has been proven to have adverse effects on non-smokers, thus the indoor smoking ban is just as it prevents smokers from adversely affecting the health of non-smokers. That is not the same as denying a service to a select group, as smokers are still welcome to eat at an establishment, we must simply go outside to do it.

As for the eHarmony thing, this is not a black and white situation. The website gives no obvious hint that they will not match gay couples before they create a login and run a search. Now, that's not illegal, but it is a bit underhanded as the site gets to laud it's huge number of users, some of which have no hope of using the service.

Not illegal, but not exactly ethically forthcoming, either.

As an aside, they also will not match Atheists.

Posted by: Joe M at November 21, 2008 10:24 AM

Joe: What about the questions that Malkin (and others) have asked? Are they valid? Is eHarmony a "public accommodation?"

Posted by: Hube at November 21, 2008 10:28 AM

No, it's a private company who is allowed to supply their services to who they wish.

Look at thinkgeek.com. They sell a product aimed at geeks: cubicle toys, t-shirts with geeky jokes, science and tech books. You can't sue them for not providing designer jeans and mattel toys anymore than you could sue abercrombie and fitch for not selling geek stuff.

eHarmony provides service to a niche group, and it is their right to do so. If I was in the market for a date, then I would go to an atheist dating site, or one that doesn't discriminate by religion.

Posted by: Joe M at November 21, 2008 12:08 PM

Well, I'm glad you agree w/me, Joe. However, a restaurant or a hotel is a private business too. That's why I asked about "public accommodation."

Posted by: Hube at November 21, 2008 02:19 PM

Yeah, I know that, but like I said before, the comparison to smokers in restaurants is not a valid one.

Posted by: Joe M at November 21, 2008 06:31 PM

Totally disagree, Hube...one establishment being free to provide a service to patrons who smoke allows non-smokers to make their own, intelligent choice. No different than when certain establishments did not allow smoking (before the all out ban). It's the owners choice to do so...his investment. And then we, as smokers, made the choice not to frequent that establishment. If smoking, at some point, was part of our enjoyment in an evening dining out and paying well for it, reason (and reasonable-ness) says go where you get what you want. Same applies...or should apply...to non-smokers. I defend and uphold, absolutely, their right to avoid smoke and patronize places which accomodate them without the likes of me whining and complaining, expecting a law-suit or a restaurant owner to accomodate my selfish wishes. Look, before Maryland went to an all-out ban we would go over to Salisbury to dine out, on occasion. Some places allowed smoking areas all the time, others only five days a week with weekends being totally smoke-free because of family/children/group participation. Did we go and expect that, because we knew they predominantly did operate a smoking area, we could kick up hell that on a Friday evening they didn't? No...we went somewhere we knew did not make such a distinction. And there is nothing of reason I see where non-smokers could not figure out how to do the same thing. As a matter of fact, let me suggest that instead of non-smoker, just read "anti-smoker" for the simple reason of not offending the many friends and acquaintances who are life-long non-smokers adamantly opposed to such as your non-valid response.

Posted by: Nancy Cleveland at November 23, 2008 11:47 AM

You mean Joe, Nancy. I'm pretty much w/you when it comes to bar/restaurant smoking. It should be up to the discretion of the BUSINESS OWNER, not the state, when deciding to allow smoking or not.

Posted by: Hube at November 23, 2008 11:59 AM

Wow...I AM sorry, Hube! I read the response the day it was written and came back to respond, today...didn't even check (but I did wonder how your most recent response, until today, was somewhat at odds with what I thought you responded to me...lol...). Mea culpa and I'll be extra careful next time.

Posted by: Nancy Cleveland at November 23, 2008 01:58 PM

No worries, Nance! :-)

Posted by: Hube at November 23, 2008 02:00 PM

Actually, this raises the issue of all application of non-discrimination laws to private business. Why SHOULDN'T E-Harmony be allowed to offer a service that excludes gays? Why shouldn't a comparable gay site be able to exclude straights? And why shouldn't either be allowed to exclude based upon race or religion? As long as a business is up front about those conditions, I don't see a problem -- folks can patronize them or not based upon their support for or opposition to such discrimination.

By the way, don't anyone accuse me of supporting such discrimination -- I'm just pro-choice on the issue. I'm personally opposed to discrimination, but I wouldn't want to impose my personal morality on anyone here. You know, sort of like your typical liberal on the matter of abortion.

Posted by: Rhymes With Right at November 23, 2008 03:44 PM

Neil Clark Warren made a major boo-boo when he started eHarmony: He tried to downplay the site's Christian-oriented philosophy when he should have trumpeted it from the hills. He did this because some folks on the Intellectual Right would've tsk-tsked him for doing it. He's now paying for it, and he would not have had he pushed the Christianity on his site.

The Intellectual Right deliberately confuses "private action" with "public accomodation" when it bangs the drum about such lawsuits. EHarmony tried to sell itself as a public accomodation, and the gay guy called them on it.

Posted by: Brad S at November 24, 2008 11:52 AM

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