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The Internet dating service eHarmony, which has been distancing itself from its reported Christian foundations for years, now has launched a matching service for homosexuals.
Compatible Partners has been put online by eHarmony, the result of a lawsuit settlement between eHarmony and the attorney general in New Jersey.
The state official pursued a complaint against the company over a 2005 statement from Eric McKinley, a homosexual, who alleged eHarmony’s heterosexual-only matching service violated the state’s anti-discrimination law.
According to the Boston Globe, “it might be the first dating site whose owners didn’t really want to create it.”
The attorney general’s ruling also raised concern that businesses that target a certain clientele may now be found guilty of discrimination.
The popular California-based service has been known for focusing on long-term relationships, especially marriage, which has been said to align with founder Neil Clark Warren’s early work with Focus on the Family’s evangelical Christian base and perspective.
Warren, a psychologist with a divinity degree, has had three of his 10 books on love and dating published by Focus on the Family. It was an appearance on James Dobson’s radio program in 2001 that triggered a response of 90,000 new referrals to the website, starting a climb of registered participants on the site from 4,000 to today’s 20 million clients.
As WND reported, the company originally said it was “based on the Christian principles of Focus on the Family author Dr. Neil Clark Warren.” It stood firm on its decision to reject homosexuals from its profiling and matching services. Its entire compatibility system is based on research of married heterosexual couples.
In 2005, Warren told USA Today the company’s goal is marriage and that same-sex marriage is illegal in most states.
“We don’t really want to participate in something that’s illegal,” he said.
Warren began to disassociate himself with Dobson that year to shed the company’s association with Focus on the Family. He said he would no longer appear on Dobson’s radio show, and he bought the rights to books he had published through Focus on the Family and removed the name from their covers.
eHarmony is a dating site that says it is dedicated to helping people find spouses, not merely casual partners. Since its founding in 2000, the site has matched hundreds of thousands of couples and boasts of being the No. 1 online dating site.
The site matches people using applicants’ responses to an extensive questionnaire and personality profile.
Warren applied research based on studies of heterosexual couples to construct matches for eHarmony users.
Now Compatible Partners will use a nearly identical questionnaire to find matches for homosexual users. Slight alterations in wording were implemented such as “I greatly appreciate the beauty of the opposite sex,” to “I greatly appreciate physical attractiveness.” But overall the sites are nearly identical in content.
The site also includes a disclaimer, which states that the research used to match couples is based on studies of heterosexual couples and that eHarmony has not conducted studies on the homosexual community.
The legal settlement also required eHarmony to pay a fee to McKinley. Additionally, eHarmony will be required to advertise using pictures of homosexual couples and individuals on the new site.
There are currently thousands of homosexual dating sites available on the Web.
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