Over the past two weeks, I’ve called most of the 100+ Bees to share the news (we do most things virtually here in the hive, so it was the first time I had spoken to a number of Bees!). Everyone was really excited and I was touched by how many people had faith in me to do what’s right for Weddingbee. That’s a lot of trust, and I will do everything I can not to let you down.
A bunch of questions came up, most of which I jotted down and answered in the last post. But a few Bees also shared some concerns around our new parent company eHarmony, since their website doesn’t offer same-sex matching.
We’re sad to report that one of our married Bees ”“ Mrs. Gingerbread ”“ has decided she is no longer going to contribute to Weddingbee. Her posts will stay up on the website, but she won’t be posting any more. We understand and respect her decision, and thank her from the bottom of our hearts for her many contributions to the hive.
Two of our other Bees ”“ Miss Sweet Tea and Mrs. Creampuff ”“ shared similar views about the need for eHarmony to offer a same-sex matching service… but are going to continue blogging for now.
All three Bees asked to post their thoughts on the site, so they could express their concerns. I agreed, and you can read their posts below.
Publishing these posts was my decision. I personally support marriage equality, and believe that everyone should have the right to marry who they love. I’m very pleased that eHarmony has allowed me to publish these concerns on the site. They understand the strong voice of Weddingbee’s community, which was one of the reasons I was enthusiastic about working with their team.
This has been the first true test of our editorial integrity, and I’m glad to report that editorial control of the site is still firmly in our hands.
Here are the three bees with their thoughts.
When Bee first shared with me that she had sold Weddingbee, I was thrilled for her. She has worked long nights for years, making this site into what it is today, and I totally support her decision to sell. After all, more resources mean more cool features for you guys and more personal time for Bee and Mr. Bee, which I think we can all agree is a good thing! When I heard that Weddingbee had been sold to eHarmony, though, I was very concerned.
I don’t remember when I first heard about eHarmony’s Christian roots; it was many years ago, I know that. Although I knew that the website matched non-Christian couples (heck, one of my bridesmaids met her husband through eHarmony!), I’ll admit that I figured they were still contributing financially to Focus on the Family. Why did I think that? After all these years, eHarmony still excludes gay people from their matching, and show no sign of supporting them in the future (see the last paragraph on the last page of this article, which gives a quote from eHarmony’s CEO: “…We have a lot of things to go after and the gay community is not a market we’re going to pursue and that’s it.”). Although it seems clear that eHarmony is trying to move away from the Christian sector and appeal to heterosexual people of all religious backgrounds, their lack of support for the LGBTQ community is a deal-breaker for me. No matter what their reasoning, excluding a group of people from their website is discrimination. Until eHarmony provides equal matching for the LGBTQ community, I will feel that the company as a whole is discriminatory.
That being said, I love Weddingbee, and I love all of you readers. Being a blogger on this website has been so fun and rewarding: I was honored to be chosen to share my wedding planning journey with you guys, and I am totally amazed and flattered every time I read your supportive comments. I am almost done sharing my experience with you, and although I do have a lot more to say, what I really feel that I need to do is share the rest of my professional wedding photos with you. I started this journey with you guys, and it’s only right to take this last step with you there as well. I want to show you what came from all that hard work!
After I talked with Mrs. Bee, I realized that I had a very difficult decision to make: as much as I love Weddingbee and you readers, I felt like I couldn’t volunteer to make eHarmony more money. I had no problem spending my time and energy blogging on Weddingbee before; it is so rewarding to communicate with you guys, and so fun to be part of the Hive. Mr. and Mrs. Bee made their living from Weddingbee, and I was happy to help them. eHarmony, however, is a different story: I could not in good conscience contribute to the wealth of a company which is so drastically at odds with my own morals and values.
At that point, I felt that I had two options: I either left Weddingbee and shared my reason for leaving, or I stayed on at Weddingbee, but somehow made my opposition to eHarmony’s practices known. Thankfully, I have been allowed to do the latter. To be honest, I am still on the fence about whether or not I will keep blogging for Weddingbee: one thing I know for sure, however, is that I do not want my name, even a moniker, associated with this company. Please know that by choosing to stay on as a Bee right now, I am by no means making a permanent decision: I am still very much undecided.
Because this is a wedding planning website, politics aren’t generally discussed here (which is probably a good thing). I know that many of you don’t have the same view on gay marriage as I do; you may be religious or not agree with calling a gay marriage “marriage.” As a result, I am sure that this post will be very controversial. I just ask you to remember one thing: this is how I feel, and I feel very, very strongly about it. None of us are looking to create a firestorm in the comments section. 🙂 Please respect the fact that we are standing up for what we believe in and are struggling with a very difficult decision, even if you don’t agree with it.
I wanted to start this post by congratulating Bee and the behind-the-scenes support staff for finally seeing the fruits of their labor with the sale of Weddingbee. I was a long-time Weddingbee stalker before I became a volunteer blogger for the site, and seeing Bee and co. develop the site has been incredible. I’m sure we can all agree that Weddingbee has been an invaluable resource for planning our weddings and a great source of community.
Though I was excited for the change, I must admit my heart sunk when I found out that eHarmony was the company Weddingbee was sold to. It’s no big reveal that principles of social justice underlie not only my wedding planning process, but also my choice of profession and personal goals. As a queer woman and advocate for LGBTQ issues, I have strong reservations about eHarmony’s history and their current stance towards the LGBTQ community, as it goes directly against what I have worked so hard for.
eHarmony has stated that it is not part of their current business plan to include same-sex matching on their website any time soon. Maintaining the ‘business interests‘ of the company has been eHarmony’s justification for denying its services to the LGBTQ community, though the history of its founder’s connection to Focus on the Family suggests to me that there are more than business interests at play.
If we are going to talk about business interests, then I believe eHarmony’s acceptance of the existing LGBTQ bloggers on Weddingbee (myself and Mrs. Gingerbread) is nothing more than another business decision. Token representation of a few LGBTQ bloggers on Weddingbee is not the same as changing an entire business model that I believe discriminates against members of the LGBTQ community as a whole.
My concern with eHarmony capitalizing on the presence of LGBTQ bloggers is not only out of principle, but out of the real material benefits the company gains by our continued blogging. It is profitable for eHarmony when any of us Bees blog; meanwhile, eHarmony loses nothing, because they can appear to support the LGBTQ community on Weddingbee while continuing to block same-sex matching on their main website. It is very painful for me to know that the ad revenue Weddingbee garners from its readers gives eHarmony more money to profit from, and to continue practices that I believe are discriminatory against the LGBTQ community.
I have loved blogging for Weddingbee, but I am concerned that my continued presence on this site suggests a tacit acceptance of eHarmony or their practices. I want to state for the record that this is not the case- I do not. eHarmony is a privately-owned company, and the moral imperatives guiding its business model are its choice. I, however, am not comfortable knowing that my contribution to Weddingbee ultimately benefits a company whose values and morals differ so drastically from my own.
I have every intention of continuing to blog through my wedding, because I would love to share the rest of my journey to the aisle with all of you. I hope that eHarmony is open to me continuing to include my views on wedding-related issues that I feel are important, such as LGBTQ marriage equality, and I look forward to continued dialogue with you all as Weddingbee moves into this new phase of growth and change. If I do decide to leave down the road, dear readers, know that it has been a joy and honor to be a part of the Weddingbee community with all of you!
Miss Sweet Tea
I’ll admit that I am feeling quite uncomfortable about the sale of Weddingbee to eHarmony. I totally understand why Weddingbee sold and I am very excited for what this means for Bee. I think she deserves kudos for creating a successful company that is in demand. However, I am not too keen on being a blogger for eHarmony.
I am concerned about this new partnership for two reasons.
1) I am concerned with eHarmony’s heavy involvement from 2000-2005 with Focus on the Family, an organization that promotes unscientific conversion therapies of LGBTQ people and homosexuality as a mental illness. I know that as both a member of the LGBTQ community and as a psychologist, that this rhetoric and these practices have and continue to cause a lot of harm to LGBTQ people. I am not sure that I can be involved with a company that in any way is associated with an organization that promotes this type of practice. Eharmony has distanced themselves from Focus on the Family for the past few years, but I worry that this is more of a business decision rather than an actual change of heart. I believe that their current company practices support my concerns.
2) eHarmony has a practice against same-sex matching. As recently as May 2008, the CEO of eHarmony was quoted in this article saying, “There’s a real business issue here,” Waldorf said. “You’ve got to decide what market you’re going to put resources against. For example, we’ve decided that the Chinese market will be a big enough opportunity. We have a lot of things to go after and the gay community is not a market we’re going to pursue and that’s it.”
eHarmony has associated with one of the most anti-LGBTQ organizations in the U.S. in the recent past and has a current practice of LGBTQ exclusion. To me, this indicates that eHarmony is an anti-LGBTQ company. Some might interpret eHarmony’s purchase of Weddingbee as a sign of progress, as they obviously know we had LGBTQ bloggers. This concerns me, because I don’t want my presence as a blogger to be used as evidence that eHarmony has become more inclusive. If eHarmony really wants to be inclusive of the LGBTQ community, this should be reflected in their policies.
Some have argued that the best thing we can do to support LGBTQ equality is to stay on board to try to make changes from within the organization. I am not convinced that this is the best way for me to show support for my community. It has been really fun sharing my experiences of wedding planning with all of you and I am grateful to have been a part of the Weddingbee community. If eHarmony changes their practices in the future, then I’d feel more comfortable being a part of an eHarmony company. Until then, I don’t think that I can reconcile the past and present actions of eHarmony and continue to blog on this site. I wish I felt differently since I still have plenty that I want to share with you and I will miss this community. If eHarmony changes what I feel are discriminatory policies, then I’d love to return. Until then, you can find me over at my other blog http://twochicksnest.blogspot.com/.
All the best and many thanks,
After reading these concerns, Stan over at eHarmony asked if he could share a response:
We’re excited to welcome Bee to eHarmony and to become part of the Weddingbee community. As you all know, she’s an amazing person who has an incredible passion for what she does. We’re looking forward to helping her fulfill her vision for Weddingbee.
Since our earliest conversations, we agreed with Bee that she should keep running Weddingbee after the acquisition and that we shouldn’t make any major changes ”“ least of all to the content. We really value the strong, diverse voices that everyone brings to the site.
eHarmony’s matchmaking service was started in 2000 after we completed research on thousands of opposite sex married couples. That research is the foundation for our singles matching service today. That service has been adapted for foreign markets over time including Canada, Australia, and the UK and nothing precludes us from offering a same-sex matching service in the future.
We’re very proud of the many marriages that result from our site. A 2007 Harris Interactive study indicated that 236 people, on average, get married every day in the United States as a result of being matched on eHarmony. The users getting married are very diverse and you can read more about them here: http://www.eharmony.com/diversity. You can learn more about the history of the company here: http://www.eharmony.com/about/faq.
Today, the company has more than 200 employees around the world, and, like any mainstream company, we’re a mix of gender, ethnicity, age and sexual preference. I’ve been here six months myself and find it a great place to work, where people are committed to helping others with some of the biggest personal decisions they face in life.
Though I don’t agree with all the statements in the posts above, we do appreciate the exchange of views. The most important point we want to emphasize is that each of you has been an integral part of shaping Weddingbee and making the hive a vibrant online community. We hope you’ll continue to find value in Weddingbee, and over time see our commitment to helping the community continue to grow and thrive.
Stanley Holt, Vice President of Publishing, eHarmony.
Thanks Stan, for sharing the eHarmony perspective. I’m glad we made the decision to air these concerns, and am looking forward to working together.
I think that marriage equality is an important issue in the wedding industry. I’ve noticed that the wedding industry as a whole seems resistant to the idea ”“ I can’t remember ever seeing a gay bride or couple in any wedding magazine or tv show. The same goes for mainstream wedding websites. I think this is bound to change over time, and hope that Weddingbee will play some small part in that.
One last thought: I don’t mean to speak for all of the Bees with my thoughts above. I am speaking only for myself, and for Weddingbee.com as a whole. But several Bees asked if they could chime in with their thoughts on marriage equality, so please check out the comments!
Update: Please read this post clarifying some of the rumors in the comments section below.