With the slogan “Making Dating Great Again,” Trump.Dating made quite a splash this week—especially because it prohibited gay and lesbian members but invited hetersexuals users to select “in an open relationship” or “unhappily married” as their relationship status. However, within just a few days of the site’s launch, the man featured on the website’s homepage, proudly donning a red MAGA cap next to his wife, has previously been convicted of “taking indecent liberties with a minor”
Triad City Beat identified the couple on the site’s home page as Jodi and Barrett “Brett” Riddleberger of Greensboro, South Carolina. In 1995. then-25-year-old Barrett was busted recording himself having sex with a 15-year-old girl.
Jodi’s standing by her man, though: In a 2011 Facebook post , she defended Brett as a Christian who has atoned for his sins. “These people obviously don’t understand the idea of a changed life… or Redemption. Neither are they willing to look at my husbands [sic] 15 year track record that includes a happy wife, 3 beautiful children and a successful business.”
Brett’s conviction first surfaced after the Riddleberger’s launched a Tea Party–inspired Conservatives for Guilford County political action committee (C4GC).
Another photo on Trump.Dating depicts General Mark A. Welsh III, a former chief of staff for the U.S. Air Force and current dean of the Bush School of Governance and Public Services. According to Newsweek, the university’s director of communications and external relations Susan Robertson indicated Welsh’s picture was used without permission.
The site launched recently, offering to help users find “’the America First’ partner of your dreams,” by sidestepping problematic politics.
While searching for a potential partner on other dating sites, it’s not uncommon to see messages like No Trump supporters or Proud liberal. We’re wrecking the dating game and giving like-minded Americans a chance to meet without the awkwardness that comes with the first conversation about politics. Wouldn’t it be refreshing to already know that your date roots for the same team?
Trump.Dating has actually revised its relationship options, no doubt due to negative press: “Have a significant other,” “have an open relationship,” “happily married” and “unhappily married” have all been removed from the site.
Members can now only be “single, never married,” “single, divorced,” “separated,” and “widowed.” And still, of course, 100% heterosexual.
Zachary Zane is a writer and activist whose work focuses on sexuality, culture, and academic research. He has contributed to The Washington Post, Rolling Stone, and The Advocate.