An eharmony ad featuring a lesbian couple has come under fire from the group One Million Moms, a division of the American Family Association. One Million Moms has created a petition, currently at 12,321 signatures, urging eharmony to “pull their LGBTQ-inclusive ad immediately.”
“This eharmony ad is an attempt to brainwash children and adults by desensitizing them and convincing them that homosexuality is natural,” said the group. “In reality, it is an unnatural love that is warned about in Scripture.”
eharmony’s Journey to LGBTQ+ Inclusion
eharmony is an online dating site founded in 2000 by Neil Clark Warren and his son-in-law, Greg Forgatch. When it was first started, the site did not offer services to gay couples, and Warren promoted the site on the radio program of Focus on the Family founder James Dobson.
When explaining why eharmony did not offer matches to same-sex couples, Warren said he had no expertise in gay relationships and also that he didn’t “want to participate in something that’s illegal.” Gay marriage was eventually legalized in all 50 states in 2015.
In a 2002 interview with Focus on the Family, Warren said eharmony was not an “exclusively Christian organization” but that “it might as well be.” When asked how he defended his position that eharmony didn’t serve gay couples because of a lack of expertise, Warren said, “Cities like San Francisco, Chicago or New York—they could shut us down so fast. We don’t want to make enemies out of them. But at the same time, I take a real strong stand against same-sex marriage, anywhere that I can comment on it.”
However, Warren later distanced himself from Dobson and sought to appeal to a broader audience. In a 2005 interview with USA Today, Warren said, “We’re trying to reach the whole world—people of all spiritual orientations, all political philosophies, all racial backgrounds.”
“And if indeed, we have Focus on the Family on the top of our books, it is a killer,” he explained, “because people do recognize them as occupying a very precise political position in this society and a very precise spiritual position.” Warren retired as CEO of eharmony in 2007 but returned in 2012. He stepped down permanently in 2016.
In 2009 in response to a discrimination lawsuit, eharmony launched a separate service for gay couples called Compatible Partners. Prior to stepping down in 2016, Warren told CNN that many evangelical Christians left eharmony after Compatible Partners was created. “We’ve suffered from the contentiousness of that topic,” he said. He noted that Compatible Partners had led to “quite a number of same-sex marriages.”
Compatible Partners officially merged with eharmony in 2019.