The online dating site ChristianMingle.com will allow gay and lesbian people to seek same-sex matches as part of the terms of a legal settlement involving discrimination claims.
Spark Networks Inc., agreed to the judge-approved settlement on June 27, which also applies to ChristianMingle.com sister sites CatholicMingle.com, AdventistSinglesConnection.com and BlackSingles.com, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Spark Networks was sued in 2013 by two gay men who claimed the Los Angeles-based Christian dating site discriminated against same-sex couples, which violated California’s anti-discrimination law, the Unruh Civil Rights Act.
The State of California's website states: "Under the Unruh Civil Rights Act, all persons are entitled to full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, privileges, or services in allbusiness establishments, including both private and public entities. The Unruh Civil Rights Act protects all persons against arbitrary and unreasonable discrimination by a business establishment."
Under the Unruh Civil Rights Act, "sex (which includes pregnancy, childbirth, medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth, gender, gender identity and gender expression)" and "sexual orientation" are protected from discrimination.
Previously, ChristianMingle.com required users identify as either a man seeking a woman, or a woman seeking a man. Under the settlement, Spark Networks will only require users to identify themselves as a man or woman. Spark Networks also agreed to add new options for gay and lesbian users within two years.
Additionally, Spark Networks will pay the gay men $9,000 each and $450,000 in legal fees to their lawyers.
Despite the settlement, Spark Networks has not admitted to any wrongdoing, and a rep said the company was "pleased to resolve this litigation."
Spark Networks' Jewish dating site JDate.com was not part of the settlement.