One could easily argue that Neil Clark Warren, 78, struck gold when he co-founded eHarmony, a dating web site that claims to be the catalyst for 5 percent of all new marriages in the United States (the company reports that 542 people wed every day because of the site). But Warren, a committed Christian, has also come under a fair amount of criticism over the years, particularly when it comes to his company’s stance on gay relationships.
After battling numerous lawsuits over eHarmony’s refusal to match homosexuals, Warren is claiming that the same-sex marriage debate has “damaged” his company.
eHarmony founder Dr. Neil Clark Warren (Photo Credit: eHarmony)
In a recent CNBC profile, the matchmaker, a Christian theologian who previously counseled married couples when he worked as a clinical psychologist for 35 years, had plenty to say about how eHarmony has been impacted by the controversial social debate.
Following a 2008 lawsuit over the failure to match gays, the company settled with New Jersey’s Civil Rights Division and agreed to launch Compatible Partners, a separate web site aimed at serving same-sex clientele; this service launched in 2009. While eHarmony reluctantly complied, Warren still doesn't seem sold on gay marriage.
“I think this issue of same-sex marriage within the next five to 15 years will be no issue anymore,” he said. “We've made too much of it. I'm tired of it. It has really damaged our company.”
Screen shot from eHarmony's web site
The decision to push the bounds of his religious beliefs was a troublesome one for Warren. While his company originally sought to work with a Christian base, his user pool grew over time. And when he found himself needing to create the gay-themed companion web site in order to stay in business in New Jersey, new issues abounded – this time the critiques came from religious people who disagreed with eHarmony’s decision to comply with government demands.
“When the attorney general of the state of New Jersey decided that we had to put up a same-sex site and we did it out of counsel that if we didn't do it we were not going to have any business in New Jersey -- we literally had to hire guards to protect our lives because the people were so hurt and angry with us, were Christian people, who feel that it's a violation to scripture,” he added.
Screen shot from Compatible Partners web site
Warren also challenged other companies to put up money to “do a really first class job of figuring out homosexuality.” He even said that eHarmony would be willing to put $10 million up for such an endeavor, although he didn’t provide details regarding what figuring the issue out might entail.
“At the very best, it's been a painful way for a lot of people to have to live,” he continued. “But at this point, at this age, I want America to start drawing together. I want it to be more harmonious.”
Warren has been married to his wife, Marylyn, for 54 years and the couple has three adult daughters. Watch him explain these issues here.
(H/T: Huffington Post)