Match Group and its subsidiary Tinder launched an advocacy campaign on Tuesday in support of the Respect for Marriage Act, which would require the federal government to recognize the validity of same-sex marriages. The bill was passed in the House earlier this summer, but still has a steep hill to climb in the Senate. In the campaign, Match Group, which also owns Hinge and OkCupid, is highlighting LGBTQIA+ couples who were married after meeting on Tinder and asking users to contact their Senators.
Fast Company spoke with Match Group’s Chief Business Affairs and Legal Officer Jared Sine, who announced the campaign in an op-ed on CNN. The following interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.
Why did you feel a need to speak up and issue a call for action to pass the Respect for Marriage Act?
It’s so easy for us sometimes to sit in our bubbles and be comfortable with what we have and what we enjoy without really looking around us to see the opportunities that we have to impact and help others. And I think one of the great things about working for a company like Match Group is we are all about helping our users find those connections that mean the most to them. So when you step back, you look at your relationships that you’re comfortable in and you say, ‘Hey, there are people who, you know, may not be able to have those,’ or there’s risks that the relationships we have today may not persist. And that’s a tragic thing to think about.
For us, it felt like the right thing to do because it’s kind of at the core of what we do, which is helping people connect, helping people find that person who’s going to change their life in that moment or forever. Ultimately, it felt very in tune with what Match Group is all about and very important for the users that are on our platforms, and as a result, it’s important to us.
The Respect for Marriage Act was introduced earlier this summer after the Supreme Court overturned Roe V. Wade and Justice Clarence Thomas issued a concurring opinion that raised concerns around the right to same-sex marriage, same-sex sexual activity, and contraception. I don’t think many Americans realized until now how fragile these rights really are.
By trade, I’m a lawyer. So I tend to look at how the things that we rely on from an institutional perspective were developed, you know, and a lot of the things that we look at and say, ‘Hey, this is a fundamental right,’ a lot of those things came through court decisions. And the thing about court decisions is they can be changed. Not easily, but they can be changed. And as a result, the way to make sure that rights are protected, the way to make sure that as I said, in my op-ed, unless we protect all marriages, no marriage is safe. Because ultimately, laws can be passed. Or, even worse, decisions could be changed from a Supreme Court perspective that would make rights that we’ve come to rely on no longer the rights that are accessible to us. It is important for us to remember that advocating from a legislative standpoint and being active and doing that is really important for each of us as individuals in society, as well as as it relates to companies and making sure that their users have the rights protected that are really meaningful to them.
You guys are one of the many companies that is more liberal leaning, while also being headquartered in Texas. Have you been able to or are you planning on using your position in the state to connect with legislatures and have productive conversations?
I think that is the way to accomplish the right outcomes, really to engage and to focus on ‘Hey, who are our allies, who are folks that are willing to talk or folks that are willing to have conversations and willing to learn?’ And I think when you engage in those productive conversations, that’s when you have success, and that’s when you’re able to change perspectives. That’s really the approach that we want to take. We have folks who are either headed up to the legislature here in Texas, or that will be over the course of the coming months to make sure that there’s a broad perspective that is given and shared as bills are introduced or bills are passed or other things are coming up.
It really is important that we engage in respectful dialogue to ensure that these rights are respected and that people’s rights are respected across the board. I really like the name of the act. The Respect for Marriage Act. That’s really what it’s about. It’s about understanding and respecting and giving people the space to be their authentic selves and to love who they love, get married where they want to get married, and how they want to get married and all those things. That’s really important.
Match Group has been vocal in the past year about a lot of national issues. Your former CEO Shar Dubey released a statement around supporting the Violence Against Women Act, and the company has called on the FDA to end its blood donation policy that bars most gay and bisexual men from donating blood. Why is it important for large organizations such as Match to voice their support and call on their users to act?
The way we look at this is: Our business, as I mentioned at the outset, is all about helping people enter into relationships and have great relationships. With the Violence Against Women Act, it’s all about safe relationships. And all about making sure that our users can engage in a safe relationship. As these issues are important to our users, engaging in and connecting and having the relationships that matter to them, they matter to us. As a result, we go out and we try to support and advocate, and I think that’s what we’re going to continue to do going forward. I know Shar did a lot of it, and [CEO Bernard Kim] seems very engaged and excited to make sure that we’re helping our users be able to do what they come to our platforms intending to do, which is to find that meaningful connection that matters most to them at that point in their life.