Thursday, May 31, 2007


I just ran across this item on Reuters via Yahoo about a Bay Area resident suing eHarmony under California law for excluding gays, lesbians, bis, etc. There you have it Boalties, a news story that combines legal issues with dating. It's like BLF, Barristers, and a Shakedown all rolled into one.

More seriously, my gut reaction is that this might end up being counterproductive. There are probably tons of dating services out there for the homosexual and other communities (think J-Date). Who knows, maybe those dating services offer all plausible options (e.g., men seeking men, or Reformed seeking Reformed) and therefore they won't be liable under whatever this statute the suit relies upon. On the flip side, eHarmony is no J-Date. At best J-Date puts some post cards at Jerry's Famous Deli tables in LA. eHarmony has a nation-wide television campaign and according to the article 12 million registered users. I'm also wondering if there's a 1A associational defense under Boy Scouts v. Dale.

Stay tuned for B-Date.


Blogger Mad.J.D. said...

To be honest, ahem, my brain is pretty fried from studying so I don't even feel like analyzing this, plus it's difficult without knowing details (and I don't want to read the article), but here's MY gut reaction to your gut reaction:

What does the availability of other "niche" dating services have to do with anything? Am I missing something? Was Ollie's Barbecue able to claim that there were plenty of other restaurants catering to blacks? Or is that even what you mean? Given your con law prowess, probably not. Or is what you are you saying that J-Date is exclusionary to gentiles the same way that eHarmony is exclusionary to gays, and therefore just as vulnerable (or invulnerable) to discrimination suits as eHarmony? Does it actually matter that eHarmony is more aggressive in their marketing than J-Date is? And as private actors, can't these sites choose to cater to whomever the hell they want? Aren't they analogous to private clubs? Help me out here! I need an edge for my Con Law Bar Essay!

As for the 1A associational defense, it seems dubious. Wouldn't eHarmony have to claim to positively espouse an anti-gay ideology to qualify? Hell, maybe they could pull it off. Before Dale, I never knew that part of the Boy Scouts' mission was molding good little straight boys.

I'm also amused by the way you've free-associated the gay community together with the Jewish community. I'm not saying you mean anything by it, just that I personally find it amusing. Not sure why.

My prediction (again, didn't read the link) is that the plaintiffs won't actually prevail. It's more likely meant to slap eHarmony with some well-deserved bad publicity and maybe shame them into catering to the entire dating population.

5/31/2007 11:05 PM  
Blogger Armen said...

Mad, your second reading is the correct one. What I meant was, a straight or a gentile or whatever other person can sue the dating services that DO cater to specific communities using the same logic. What we do know is that eharmony does not provide the option of finding someone of the same sex, whereas other niche dating sites might perfectly let you find whomever you want on there. So that might be one distinction. Another distinction might be that eHarmony's size (as evidenced by their ad campaign and number of registered users) might make give them a special status. I didn't take a 1A course, and Chemerinsky's lecture had a few umm side notes. But didn't Dale argue that the Boy Scouts are so large they really can't claim to be a private organization?

And to distract others, every time I post on this thread, I will end with a token best of Craigslist ad

Any association j-date and homosexuality was intentional to piss off MW. Kidding. I didn't mean anything by it.

5/31/2007 11:32 PM  
Blogger Mad.J.D. said...

Oh, I wasn't aware of that argument in Dale's case - because I, of course, didn't read it - so you might be right. But in any case, whatever argument he made appears to have failed. Any attempt to claim eHarmony has somehow eclipsed private org status would seem - what's the word I want - specious.

It does occur to me that congress has the power to control instumentalities of interstate commerce, one of which is the internet. Does that add a twist here?

Intellectually Lazy,

6/01/2007 2:37 PM  
Blogger PG said...

I don't know about the West Coast, but JDate is huge in NYC -- to the point that they have a giant advertisement near Times Square, and are invaded by gentiles.

6/11/2007 9:14 AM  

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