Online dating site ChristianMingle.com will now allow gay and lesbian users to look for same-sex matches after a settlement of discrimination claims approved by a California judge, who has also asked the company to pay $468,000 to the two gay men who brought the lawsuit against it.
The plaintiffs alleged in 2013 that Spark Networks Inc., which owns the Christian dating website and several other sites, violated California's anti-discrimination law by limiting options for gays. And the agreement now requires that the gateway or home pages ask the user to just identify as a "man" or a "woman," instead of choosing between "man seeking woman" and "woman seeking man," according to The Wall Street Journal.
The settlement applies also to CatholicMingle.com, AdventistSinglesConnection.com and BlackSingles.com, but not to the online Jewish matchmaker JDate.com, which was not part of the lawsuit.
Spark Networks will have to adjust searching and profile features in these 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.
"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.
"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," plaintiff's attorney Vineet Dubey was quoted as saying.
California's Unruh Civil Rights Act requires all businesses to provide "full and equal" participation to people of all sexual orientations.
The Los Angeles-based ChristianMingle.com is "the largest and most trusted Christian dating site," and has more than 9 million members, according to the site.