eHarmony.com has launched a homosexual dating website as part of a settlement to end a three-year court battle.
"Compatible Partners is a quality matching service with a focus on long-term relationships for gay and lesbian singles," said eHarmony, Inc. CEO Greg Waldorf after the launch of CompatiblePartners.net last week. "We're excited to add this new site to eHarmony, Inc.'s growing portfolio of brands."
Pro-family conservatives who had once praised eHarmony's past effort and helped give the site exposure following its launch, however, were far from excited when news broke last year of eHarmony's settlement.
"To those of us in the pro-family movement who hailed eHarmony's commitment to the virtue of traditional marriage, the company's actions are distressing and damaging," stated Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, in an announcement.
"Dr. Warren et al, you sold your soul (or at least eHarmony's)…," added Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans For Truth about Homosexuality, in a letter to eHarmony founder Neil Clark Warren.
In 2000, Warren had launched eHarmony to pair up men and women to help create lasting marriages. The website, which utilizes a patented Compatibility Matching System to find compatible long-term relationships, soon grew to be the Internet's No. 1 trusted relationship services provider and claims that an average of 236 eHarmony members marry every day in the United States as a result of being matched on the site.
In 2005, however, a New Jersey man accused eHarmony of discriminating against homosexuals by operating a setup that did not extend searches to include partners of the same sex.
Theodore B. Olson, an attorney for eHarmony, said that even though the company believed Eric McKinley's complaint was "an unfair characterization of our business," it chose to settle because of the unpredictable nature of litigation.
"eHarmony looks forward to moving beyond this legal dispute, which has been a burden for the company, and continuing to advance its business model of serving individuals by helping them find successful, long-term relationships," Olson said in a statement.
Under the settlement, eHarmony was to pay the New Jersey state division $50,000 to cover administrative costs and pay McKinley $5,000. The settlement also required the company to offer homosexual dating services through an equivalent website, to advertise its new site on gay websites, and to include pictures of same-sex matches in the "Diversity" section of the its website.
March 31, the date that CompatiblePartners.net launched, was the date when most of settlement's terms were agreed to be implemented on or by.
Since news of the settlement broke out, pro-family leaders such as Americans for Truth's LaBarbera have threatened to encourage singles to use "other dating services that have not sold out their God and their moral beliefs for the almighty dollar."
LaBarbera said it was a "shame" that eHarmony did not choose to follow the lead of the Boy Scouts of America, who were also challenged under New Jersey's "sexual orientation" law but won their case when the state of New Jersey was overruled by the U.S. Supreme Court.