I was reading on Pam’s House Blend and the Ex-Gay Watch about the current eHarmony controversy. The issue is that the business discriminates in favor of heterosexuals — to the exclusion of providing comparable services to gays, lesbians, and bisexuals. Peter LaBarbera of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality and Stacy L. Harp of Active Christian Media are trying to get a letter writing and phone calling plan in place for supporting eHarmony, but essentially their efforts will be wasted — per the text of California law it looks like eHarmony has already lost this case before the battle is even engaged.
The reason is eHarmony has apparently already lost is in part due to their headquarters being based out of Pasadena, California. Since January of 2006, California modified the state’s Unruh Civil Rights Act with AB1400:
The Civil Rights Act of 2005 [AB 1400] adds sexual orientation, gender, and marital status to the Unruh Act, explicitly strengthening nondiscrimination protections to clarify that businesses that provide services, goods or accommodations to the public cannot discriminate against LGBT people. The law requires “Full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, privileges or services in all business establishments” covered by the Unruh Act, which include shopping centers, mobile home parks, bars and restaurants, schools, medical and dental offices, hotels, theaters, hospitals, salons, public agencies, retail stores, and certain organizations like condominium homeowners’ associations.
AB 1400 actually goes further than that. This is because the definition of sex used for AB1400 includes gender identity/transgender people. The text of the Unruh Civil Rights Act also specifically states about the businesses affected:
All persons within the jurisdiction of this state are free and equal, and no matter what their sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, marital status, or sexual orientation are entitled to the full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, privileges, or services in all business establishments of every kind whatsoever. (Emphasis added)
[I]n all business establishments of every kind whatsoever will no doubt include California based e-businesses, whether owned by Christians (like eHarmony’s Dr. Neil Clark Warren) or not. The businesses affected by the legislation aren’t limited to the list of shopping centers, mobile home parks, bars and restaurants, schools, etc., of the list above — it’s an inclusion of every kind of business whatsoever that does business in California.
(summary and conclusion after flip)I know I’ve recently kept going back to the writings of Bayard Rustin of late, but folk like Americans For Truth About Homosexuality‘s Peter LaBarbera really don’t fully understand what Rustin outlined as the primary strategy for obtaining basic civil rights for LGBT people:
[T]he job of the gay community is not to deal with extremists who would castigate us or put us on an island and drop an H-bomb on us. The fact of the matter is that there is a small percentage of people in America who understand the true nature of the homosexual community. There is another small percentage who will never understand us. Our job is not to get those people who dislike us to love us. Nor was our aim in the civil rights movement to get prejudiced white people to love us. Our aim was to try to create the kind of America, legislatively, morally, and psychologically, such that even though some whites continued to hate us, they could not openly manifest that hate. That’s our job today: to control the extent to which people can publicly manifest antigay sentiment. (emphasis added)
By changing public accommodation laws in California to make it unlawful to discriminate against LGBT people in the public marketplace, that controls the extent to which people can publicly manifest antigay sentiment by limiting their ability to use discriminatory marketplace practices against LGBT customers. It doesn’t limit these people’s beliefs or free speech, but it does limit their legal ability to discriminate based on their beliefs.
I believe Dr. Neil Clark Warren and eHarmony have already lost this court case — they just don’t know it yet.
Crossposted from The View From (Ab)Normal Heights.