Saturday, November 22, 2008

Suit forces eHarmony to offer gay dating service

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Online dating service eHarmony has agreed to create a new website for gays and lesbians as part of a settlement with a gay man in New Jersey, the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General said on Wednesday.

The website will provide a dating service with "male seeking a male" or "female seeking a female" options, the Attorney General's office said in a statement.

eHarmony said it will launch the new same-sex dating site, named "Compatible Partners," by March 31.

The settlement was the result of a discrimination complaint filed by Eric McKinley against eHarmony in 2005, which will be dismissed under the settlement agreement.

eHarmony was founded in 2000 by evangelical Christian Dr. Neil Clark Warren and had ties with the influential religious conservative group Focus on the Family.

The New Jersey complaint is not the only legal action to be brought against eHarmony for failing to provide a same-sex option.

In March, lawyers in California brought a lawsuit against the company on behalf of San Francisco resident Linda Carlson, who was denied access to eHarmony because she is gay.

"We believe that this case is now essentially moot, and we're confident that we will prove that in court," eHarmony vice president Antone Johnson said in a statement about the California case.

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