Thursday, April 19, 2007
When Dating Legislation Misses The Point
A recent decision by a US District Court judge has upheld the legality of a law that prohibits Americans from speaking with foreign individuals through online dating sites. The law, originally called the International Matchmaker Regulation Act, is now called the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act and was attached to the Violence Against Women Act, an act that any legislator would have had a tough time voting against. The act in question might have had a good intention at one time, but with such vague wording has missed the point entirely on what was intended to be accomplished.
The law was presumably intended to stop online dating sites that center on hooking up single American men with foreign women as women's groups advocated that foreign women brought in under these situations suffer a higher rate of abuse and mistreatment. While that is a honorable goal, the wording of the law makes it a) difficult to enforce and b) open to interpretation.
The law does state that it targets only those online matchmaking agencies that market themselves as a mail order bride site, but who draws that line? Match.com might not be affected, but those that offer traditional dating or matchmaking services and foreign women as well might be in the grey area. Additionally, there are a number of online daters out there that have had successful relationships through such sites. Does making the practice illegal based solely on some bad apples make sense for the American public as a whole?
The basis of the law is a good one and perhaps there are measures that are more appropriate and less presumptuous. However, such a broad stroke needlessly affects more people than it was intended to target, something every measure pushed through Congress should endeavor to avoid.
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