True Love for Everyone

An Associated Press article reports the settlement of a class-action suit objecting to eHarmony’s separation of its straight and gay dating services. The company has agreed to link its two services and allow participants to use both websites for one registration fee.

The economic issue here is that of matching in the dating market, which is the purpose of the service, and of price in relation to average cost. Presumably the linkage raises eHarmony’s average cost, although I doubt by very much. As such, I would expect the price of the service to rise slightly for all participants, unless eHarmony had been discriminating in pricing against gays, or straights, before. Bi-sexual people benefit a lot, though: they no longer have to pay double to be registered on both matching services. So this seems like a standard economics example of most people facing a small loss, with a few – bi-sexuals in this case – reaping a substantial gain.


joshua

eHarmony was originally a Christian-inspired organization with a long history of discrimination. They needed a court order to even allow homosexuals on the service. Seperating the services was their attempt to maintain their own twisted values and while satisfying a previous court order. Nice to see that their strategy didn't work.

Phil

eHarmony markets itself as a service for finding a long-term relationship ... its commercials claim it's not a "dating site".

Are bisexuals really so indifferent between a long-term relationship with a man and a long-term relationship with a woman that they'd audition people of both sexes?

Seriously, I don't know the answer to that question ... but the indifference seems strange to me. Maybe in dating they'd be willing to try either, but for a long-term relationship?

Transplanted Lawyer

Seems to me that the money gays and lesbians spend on a dating website is just as green as the money straight people spend. The linkage costs need never have been incurred in the first place had they approached their service from a nondiscriminatory perspective. EHarmony's claim all along has been that their algorithm just doesn't work right for matching people of the same sex, which has never been a claim that has rung true since the real issue is matching common traits like interests, ethics, and socioeconomic expectations, which all transcend gender or even gender roles.

So if we're looking at the issue from a purely economic perspective, eHarmony has now been forced to do business in a more rational fashion than it chose to do when it was set up in the first place. The shame of it is that it took a court to get a business to act in a fashion that ought to increase profits.

Christophe

It's their company, who are you to tell them who they have to service when they wish not to. I don't see the problem in making bisexual people pay twice if they want access to both the heterosexual and the gay site; if that's the only thing that the company provides then either buy it or not, and better yet if you think there's a market for it set up such a bisexual dating site yourself. This kind of mentality in feeling entitled to dictate to companies which services they have to provide for which price while nobody forces you to buy them in the first place is exactly what is bringing the Western world to its knees.

Jake

@ joshua - "eHarmony was originally a Christian-inspired organization with a long history of discrimination. They needed a court order to even allow homosexuals on the service."

Technically, homosexuals and anyone else were allowed on eHarmony, the company just didn't offer to match people of the same sex.

But this whole kerfluffle makes me wonder why homosexuals would ever want to go on eHarmony and give the company their money, if its practices are so offensive. Or are these lawsuits just a means of hurting a successful company that happens to hold different religious views?

Dan

Where the bisexuals are at a disadvantage is that they may be seeking twice as many partners. (Two instead of one). So they deserve the break since they have a more complicated livestyle, right? Maybe they need two simultaenous long term relationships.

joshua

@ Chrisophe and Jake: it's important because it's a human rights/discrimination issue. The court decision simply parallels all of the previous discrimination related decisions. If you don't think this is a human rights issue, You might want to read some of the newer scientific literature. There is a lot out there, but the following is a good general overview. Of couse, this review is only a 10 pages long, so it leaves a lot out.

Daewood, K., Bailey, J. M., & Martin, 2009. Genetic and Environmental Influences on Sexual orientation. Handbook of Beahvioral Genetetics. New York, Spring. 269-279.

Another interesting read is the following:

Iemmola, F. & Ciani, A. C., 2008. New evidence of genetic factors influencing sexual orientation in men: Female fecundity increase in teh maternal line. Archives of Sexual beahvior. 38. 393-399.

frankenduf

"bisexual people benefit alot"- this isn't code, is it?

Spooner

Christophe (#4), while I agree with you, I think your argument won't get much traction. The standard response will be something along the lines of "Then should they also be allowed to offer their services only to white people?" If you answer (as would I) "of course, they should", you will be labeled racist. even though you're only defending other people's right to be racist. Unfortunate as it may be, government regulation of commerce has been accepted by a near unanimity for a long time.

KarenS

Phil: "Are bisexuals really so indifferent between a long-term relationship with a man and a long-term relationship with a woman that they'd audition people of both sexes?"

Can't speak for everyone, but this bisexual is interested in the person first and foremost; gender is of lesser importance. The idea that one should choose to be in a long-term relationship with someone based on whether or not they have certain body parts seems odd to me.

Not that I'd ever use eHarmony's services, despite Mr. Hamermesh's assertion that bisexuals will benefit most from the new policy.

KarenS

Dan: "Where the bisexuals are at a disadvantage is that they may be seeking twice as many partners."

You are confusing bisexuality with polyamory.

htb

I don't see the appeal of these sites to gay people. The data hasn't been validated outside of the narrow setting of male-female relationships. Why would you spend good money to use a system that the seller doesn't think will *work*?

It's like saying, "Oh, sure, this drug is safe in old men. We've never tested it in either women or children, but why don't you give it to your daughter?"

Oh, wait, we did exactly that -- with thalidomide.

Yasha

Here's hoping someone with some idle cash will go around suing gay-only dating sites to force them to allow straight people.

joshua

@Yasha, Christopher and Jake

I agree with you in more ways than you might imagine. If eharmony presented itself an exclusionary faith-based dating service, I wouldn't have a problem. However, they market themselves as a place where "people" find their life partner. They chose to compete in the larger market place. That has a social cost. If they don't want to pay that cost, they need to change their business model and the way they publicly define the business that they are in. Of course, that would involve a financial trade off as well.

Mike A

Well- I know that the vary costs is just ridiculous and defeats the purpose...My background is 20 years in financial services before I became a partner at CheckMate4u in DC....they don't discriminate and the do EVERYTHING in person and every member has a personal interview...very surprised at the success of eharmony and Match for that matter....just my 2 cents...good luck to all-

greg

Not sure how eHarmony works but does it allow prospective datee to examine the profile of daters? Just guessing, but in the previous split system, it would not have been possible to see if someone was interested in both men and women as you would only see the one profile. I would think that knowing if your potential date was bisexual would be significant for some people.

DrS

Yasha! I'd love to see that because it would be hilarious. PC and calls of discrimination usually only works one way, but with good reason. The reason being that straight people don't constantly feel left out and discriminated against, so they don't need to have non-profit legal groups on their side.
If you were a gay person in the US today, you'd feel like you needed to have someone calling out those who discriminate against you, because it happens all the time and in some clearly illegal ways. Whether this is a case of that, I don't know.

James

It seems that religious people, particularly Christians, face more and more hate because of their beliefs

(which, IMHO, are entirely legitimate. Behavior, though influenced by genes, is the object of moral praise and blame. Race is not behavior, but sexual habit certainly is.)

It will be interesting to see how modern liberalism treats religion if it succeeds in winning social acceptance for homosexuals and atheists. It's not looking good so far. Tolerance, ironically, is the passionate call of those who hate other's deep-held, legitimate beliefs.

jdiec

As someone who frequently stands on the side of gays in most debates, I think it does a great disservice to this country when we allow the government to dictate with whom a private company chooses to do its business with. There are plenty of organizations that cater only to very exclusive demographics yet the fact that eHarmony is getting sued (and lost) is more of a testament to the hypocrisy of those who fight for "equal rights" than it is a victory against discrimination and prejudice in our society.
If a Christian ever chooses to sue a gay dating site for equal treatment for straight customers, it will probably be the only time I'll be rooting for the plaintiff.

And KarenS, it seems to me that "being interested in the person and not the body parts" is practically a cliche in the bisexual community nowadays. Can you explain to me, why bisexuals always seem to imply that gays and straights are superficial for not considering a relationship with people of a certain gender while at the same time contending that sexuality is not a choice?
Can't speak for everyone, but the idea that one should choose to be in a long-term relationship with someone regardless of what body part they have should be whats odd not the other way around.

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Alex

"I'm not a practicing bisexual, but it automatically doubles my chances of a date on a Saturday night."
-Woody Allen