ChristianMingle, which has long billed itself as the “largest and fastest growing online community” for dating, may be about to grow a little larger and faster. Following a settlement against the California-based dating company, they’ll be making changes to their app and websites to allow gay and lesbian Christians to search for same-sex matches.
Up ’til now, ChristianMingle required users to identify either as “men seeking woman” or “women seeking men.” But two gay men realized what that meant under California law, and they were willing to go to court over it.
California has a law known as the Unruh Civil Rights Act, passed in 1959.
“All persons within the jurisdiction of this state are free and equal, and no matter what their sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, or sexual orientation are entitled to the full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, privileges, or services in all business establishments of every kind whatsoever.” The inclusion of sexual orientation was a 2005 amendment, but the California Supreme Court had already interpreted the law as protecting all vulnerable classes, not only those listed specifically.
Under Unruh, ChristianMingle’s terms of service that made no provision for same-sex matches violated the concept of free and equal access to their services, according to the lawsuit. Rather than take it to court, Spark, the company behind ChristanMingle conceeded the point. They will change their sites and app, and also pay the legal fees of the two men.
The terms of the settlement will also apply to three of Spark’s other sites, CatholicMingle, AdventistSinglesConnection, and BlackSingles, but not to Jdate, their popular Jewish version of the dating site which was not named in the lawsuit.
There’s been a small backlash, mostly on twitter, but Vineet Dubey, the attorney for the plaintiffs, said that they were very happy with Spark’s decision to settle and open their site to more people who would want to use it.