Wading into the cesspool

I try to avoid places like Our Lady of Perpetual Outrage, but sometimes the stupid that emanates from them is like fluorescent light to the blogger's moth. This is one such occasion, because Malkin is outraged (as she generally is) that teh gay isn't being suppressed vigorously enough, and so some might get on her.

To be fair, the story she's gotten twisted about is one I'm ambivalent about at best. It's the eHarmony story, and Paul the Spud from Shakesville points out a few of the problems with the specific narrative, one of which is that the guy who filed the lawsuit isn't the best test case. But he filed, and eHarmony settled and will offer a separate (but equal, they claim--sound familiar?) service which will match up same-sex couples with the same degree of failure as their regular service does.

Oh, but Malkin doesn't see it that way.

So, this is “progress?” eHarmony, a Christian-targeted dating website, gets sued by a gay man demanding that the business match him up with a same-sex partner. The New Jersey Attorney General intervenes on behalf of the gay plaintiff and forces eHarmony to change its entire business model. To be clear: The company never refused to do business with anyone. Their great “sin” was not providing a specialized service that litigious gay people demanded they provide. This case is akin to a meat-eater suing a vegetarian restaurant for not offering him a ribeye or a female patient suing a vasectomy doctor for not providing her hysterectomy services.
See what I mean about how the stupid just draws you in? It's mesmerizing, isn't it?

Where to begin? Well, people who've dealt with eHarmony may know that the founder is a conservative Christian, and that he built his "system" around some version of how he understands the Bible, but that's not really clear from going to the website. For instance, if you click around on the links, specific religious points of view don't tend to pop up very often. In the section on their 29 dimensions of compatibility, they have a piece on "Values and Beliefs" that reads this way:

Values and Beliefs are at the center of most of our life experiences. How we feel about spirituality, religion, family and even politics influence how we think about the world and who we are going to be most comfortable sharing our lives with. The dimensions that determine your Values and Beliefs are: Spirituality, Family Goals, Traditionalism, Ambition, and Altruism.
And that's the most straightforward section on religion I could find. That's weak sauce if the site is targeting Christians primarily.

But the claim that the company never refused to do business with anyone is the one that really bugs me, because of the disdain that it represents. It's a modified form of the argument that current federal marriage law isn't discriminatory against LGBT people because they have the same right to marry a person of the opposite sex as straight people do. It's naked hate, an argument that refuses to acknowledge the biological desire of a significant group of people to pair up with each other and have their relationship accepted by society.

And here's where I lose my ambivalence about this case. See, it's possible to argue that there are plenty of other dating services that gladly offer matching for LGBT singles looking to get together, so why pressure eHarmony to do so? It all comes back to gay rights being the next major civil rights issue. eHarmony was discriminating against LGBTs by refusing to serve them. We wouldn't put up with a restaurant that refused to serve people of a certain skin color, or one that refused to serve gay people, so why should we put up with a dating company that similarly discriminates? Sure, LGBT's have other options for dating services, but African-Americans had other eating options in the 60's as well. That didn't stop them from sitting in at lunch counters and requesting service.

When eHarmony got into the matchmaking business, they took on the responsibility to be non-discriminatory. There would be great outrage if they refused to match people of different ethnicities because it conflicted with their belief system--the same should be occurring over their refusal to match same-sex couples. And if it continues to freak out Our Lady of Perpetual Outrage, then so be it.

Newer Post Older Post Home