Finding a relationship, albeit loosely defined for some, is the objective of most online daters. While the advertising of most mainstream online dating sites primarily highlights heterosexual couples, gay individuals are also given the opportunity to find love via the mainstream sites or their affiliates. Given the politically charged issue of same-sex marriage, many dating sites to date have opted to stay out of the fray. OkCupid, however, entered into the fray to support same-sex individuals seeking love by calling on site members to not use the browser Mozilla Firefox when accessing their site. OkCupid's decision to take a stand for gay rights is not only morally appropriate, but also good business.
OkCupid decided to encourage users to avoid using Mozilla due to the appointment of Mozilla's new CEO Brendan Eich's views on same-sex marriage. In 2008, Eich made a $1,000 dollar contribution in support of Proposition 8, a proposition to ban same-sex marriage in California. OkCupid issued a statement regarding Eich that appears when users attempt to sign onto OkCupid via Mozilla. While users may continue to the site after reading the statement, OkCupid hopes many individuals will internalize their message and use Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, or an alternative browser.
As a company in the business of helping all individuals find love, OkCupid suggests allowing site members to access their site via a browser run by a man who opposes same-sex marriage to be unacceptable. We should cheer OkCupid for making a socially responsible and ethical choice. At the same time, OkCupid's decision to support same-sex individuals is a savvy business move. According to OkCupid, eight percent of the relationships they fostered are among gay couples. Moreover, gay individuals represent a major and growing segment of the online dating marketplace.
Gay individuals are growing as a segment of online daters due to the nature of the dating market. Online dating is particularly beneficial to gay individuals because of the thin dating markets, a market in which the costs to find several acceptable partners is sufficient to potentially stifle relationship formation, they face. Sociologists Michael Rosenfeld and Reuben Thomas find that gay individuals have benefited greatly from online dating as a result of their dating market position. In fact, Rosenfeld and Thomas conclude online dating is becoming the most popular means by which same-sex couples meet. Online dating's dominance as the mechanism for relationship formation also may be even larger for same-sex than heterosexual couples according to Rosenfeld and Thomas.
Online dating also provides distinct advantages to the gay community. While safety is always a concern for daters, safety concerns are particularly acute in the gay community. Safety concerns are particularly acute in the gay community due to the persistent stigma associated with being gay in many areas of the United States. Online dating theoretically provides gay individuals with a safe, or at the very least a more controlled, environment to find a romantic partner.
Through supporting same-sex individuals OkCupid is positioning themselves as the champion of the gay community and by extension the site for gay individuals to use. From a business perspective, gaining a loyal, niche group is a feather in OkCupid's cap. Moreover, OkCupid, which historically has received a large portion of their profits from advertising, may be able to attract new advertisers that are concerned about same-sex interests or cater to the LGBT community. While the fallout from the Mozilla CEO's appointment cannot yet be fully assessed, OkCupid has certainly declared all for dating and dating for all.
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