Gay and lesbian singles are now permitted to find same-sex matches on the popular dating website ChristianMingle.com following a controversial California court ruling.
According to the Wall Street Journal, a gay couple filed a lawsuit against Spark Networks, which owns ChristianMingle, back in 2013, alleging that site "arbitrarily and intentionally" excluded gay and lesbian people, which was a violation of California's civil rights acts that requires businesses to provide equal services regardless of sexual orientation."
According to the terms approved by a state judge on Monday, Spark Networks will have to change searching and profile features on its websites to include gay and lesbian singles within two years, as well as pay $9,000 each to the two plaintiffs and reimburse them for attorney's fees with $450,000. The settlement applies also to CatholicMingle.com, AdventistSinglesConnection.com and BlackSingles.com.
"Spark will not change the gateway/home pages to use the 'man seeking woman' and 'woman seeking man' prompts in the future unless Spark also provide similar prompts which allow individuals seeking a same sex match to enter and use the sites without having to state that they are seeking a match with someone of the opposite sex. As long as Spark operates the Mingle Sites, users will continue to have the ability to search for potential same sex matches using the site's text searching and profile building functions," the settlement reads.
Previously, same-sex Christian couples couldn't be matched through ChristianMingle, the "the largest and most trusted Christian dating site," in the world, because members were unable to register as gay in the first place. On its website, ChristianMingle call itself the "premier destination for anyone looking to date and marry within the Christian faith."
WSJ noted that on Thursday, a change had already taken place on ChristianMingle.com. When someone makes their first visit to the site's homepage now, rather than being asked whether they're a "man seeking woman" or a "woman seeking man," they're merely asked for their gender.
Plaintiff's attorney Vineet Dubey praised the decision, stating, "I am gratified that we were able to work with Spark to help ensure that people can fully participate in all the diverse market places that make our country so special, regardless of their sexual orientation."
However, the move has been criticized by many in the faith-based community, and an editorial in the Libertarian Republic slammed the California law, saying the state has gone "full authoritarian" in restricting religious freedom.
"More and more, government has been restricting business owners' freedom of choice and actions, wrote author Darrell England. "The government is demanding strict obedience from business owners at the expense of their own individual freedoms. Now government interference extends to telling the businesses who their customers must be and what services they must provide? My hope is that American voters will soon see the value in electing representatives that promote individual liberties as their platform."