I have put off for some time posting on a suit a California lesbian filed last month against the dating service eHarmony “for refusing to offer its services to gays, lesbians and bisexuals.” I had hesitated writing because I have much to say about this for a great variety of reasons, largely because it goes to the heart of what it means to live in a free society.
In short, let me say that I oppose this suit and hope the judge dismisses it. While I don’t approve of this web-site’s only offering services to individuals seeking romantic relationships with a member of the opposite sex, it’s not really for me to approve or disapprove. This is a private organization which provides a service for those seeking heterosexual relationships. Just as there are private organizations which provide on-line dating services for those seeking same-sex relationships.
It’s not as if Linda Carlson, the woman filing the suit, lacks online options to find lesbian love. There are a number of sites which cater to those seeking same-sex romance as well as those seeking more “traditional” forms of intimacy. And there are those sites which cater to those seeking same-sex intimacy (without providing options for those seeking heterosexual romance).
And some sites fill a niche market. JDate serves those who seeking to find Jewish partners. If Miss Carlson wins her case, then someone seeking Christian romance could sue Jdate for not serving them. I would daresay there are sites for Christians, Muslims — and others of a variety of different faiths, backgrounds or interests.
Not only that. If she wins, perhaps an evangelical Christian will sue gay.com demanding that it provide matchmaking services for straight couples.
Twelve years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, Hurley v. Irish-American Gay Group of Boston affirmed the right of an Irish-American group to exclude a gay Irish group from their annual parade. The court held that it violated the First Amendment for Massachusetts to “require private citizens who organize a parade to include among the marchers a group imparting a message the organizers do not wish to convey.”
While gay activists were gnashing their teeth over their defeat at the nation’s highest court, I think they were short-sighted in their dismay. Had they won, then ex-gays and anti-gay groups would have had the right to march in Gay Pride parades.
I believe the same issue is at stake here. If Miss Carlson wins, not only will eHarmony have to accomodate those seeking same-sex romance, but gay web-sites will have to accommodate those seeking heterosexual marriage.
The issue here is freedom. It’s a shame that in their zeal to root out all discrimination (or perceived discrimination), some gay activists seek to undermine the freedom of others. Their freedom to speak as they will, to associate with whom they choose and to seek romance with the types of people with whom they hope to find intimacy.
Just as eHarmony should be free to focus on heterosexual romance, so should gay.com be free to promote gay relationships.
Please, Miss Carlson, drop your suit. For you may well find that the result you seek in this case will compromise the freedom of many gay organizations to promote same-sex relationships.
– B. Daniel Blatt (GayPatriotWest@aol.com)
My friend Rick Since has posted an excellent piece on this — which I highly **HIGHLY** recommend. And I expect I’ll have more to say in subsequent posts.
I hardly think eHarmony is worth the trouble of suing. Unless, of course, we’re going to insist that Lesbotronic and Slave4Master and Dudesnude, etc., all start accepting ads from “men seeking women” and “women seeking men.”
(Via HardHobbit in Comment #3.)
In a thoughtful piece, Dale Carpenter says that the suit is a “bad idea” it trivializes the serious phenomenon of anti-gay discrimination. While Dale (unlike yours truly) supports extending anti-discrimination “principles to the private sphere on important matters like employment and housing,” he opposes this lawsuit because it
It doesn’t involve a core concern like employment or housing or even a traditional public accommodation, like discrimination in a restaurant or hospital. It’s also very hard to see how any gay person is really harmed by the policy. Gays aren’t lacking for match-making sites, either general ones or those tailored just to same-sex pairs. And personally, I wouldn’t give my money to eHarmony regardless of what policy they adopt at this point.
Make sure to read the whole thing not only because it’s a good piece, but also because I expect to get back to it in a future post.