eHarmony does not hate gay people. It is merely ignorant of them. That is the dating site's excuse for excluding same-sex customers — a practice that led a gay New Jersey man, Eric McKinley, to file a complaint with New Jersey's attorney general which eHarmony has just settled, paying a $50,000 fine to the state and $5,000 to McKinley. eHarmony was founded in 2000 by Neil Clark Warren, an evangelical Christian and a psychologist; he is still the company's chairman.To settle the complaint, eHarmony is also launching Compatible Partners, a gay dating site. But the Compatible site, as proposed is not just separate; it's also unequal. eHarmony executives have long insisted that they didn't want to serve gay daters because their site used an algorithm based on long-term studies of straight couples. Compatible Partners, which must launch by March, will use the same questionnaire as eHarmony — but the company admits it has no idea if it will work to find good matches. Compatible Partners users will see a warning to this effect: "The statement lets customers know that eHarmony, Inc. has not conducted research on same-sex couples so that they have the information they need to decide whether to use our service." If anyone shows up that is; eHarmony will give away 10,000 free accounts, but it's hard to think that a dating service chaired by a conservative Christian will prove much more popular than, say, Manhunt, the gay personals site whose chairman donated to John McCain's campaign. The politics of sex aside, the website's clearly going to suck. This should sound so familiar to people who build websites for a living: A poorly thought-out product, based on insufficient research, rushed out on an artificial deadline. But in this case, it's the government, not inept managers, who are ordering it up. They're from the government, and they're here to help your dating life! If gays can't get married in California, don't they at least deserve the benefit of their own pseudoscientifically valid hookups? (Photo via Magicmud.com)
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