eHarmony Launches Gay Dating Service

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The online dating service eHarmony announced Wednesday it will launch a new Web site for same-sex singles as part of a discrimination settlement with the state of New Jersey.

The new dating service for homosexuals was created after New Jersey resident Eric McKinley filed a lawsuit against the Pasadena, Calif.-based eHarmony three years ago.

McKinley said he was bewildered when he tried to register at the dating Web site, because among the options given to users there was not one for gay singles.

"It's very frustrating and it's very humiliating to think that other people can do it and I can't," he said. "And the only reason I can't is because I'm a gay man. That's very hurtful."

Theodore B. Olson, one of eHarmony's attorneys, said that even though the company believed McKinley's complaint was "an unfair characterization of our business," it chose to settle because of the unpredictable nature of litigation.

While neither the company nor founder Neil Clark Warren acknowledged any liability, under the settlement eHarmony must pay New Jersey state civil rights division $50,000 for administrative costs and pay $5,000 to McKinley.

eHarmony said it plans to launch its new gay dating service this spring.

The online matchmaker has seen prior lawsuits filed against it for discrimination.

Last year, a Northern California woman sued the online dating service, alleging discrimination against gays, lesbians and bisexuals.

In 2005, a San Francisco man filed a similar complaint to McKinley's, but the state determined no discrimination laws were violated.

Another California man sued the company three years ago for refusing to let him use the service. But company argued there was a good reason: He was still married. The case was dropped before it went to trial.

Source: The Associated Press

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