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.

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  1. joshua says:

    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.

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  2. Phil says:

    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?

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  3. Transplanted Lawyer says:

    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.

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  4. Christophe says:

    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.

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  5. Jake says:

    @ 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?

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  6. Dan says:

    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.

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  7. joshua says:

    @ 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.

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  8. frankenduf says:

    “bisexual people benefit alot”- this isn’t code, is it?

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