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A Superior Court in California has just penned off on a settlement that requires Christian Mingle to accommodate LGBT singles who use the site. Now, people visiting ChristianMingle.com aren't restricted to searching for a partner of the opposite sex; they can now search for same-sex matches. This will surely not be the last word on what will become part of the "religious freedom" movement.
Trouble originally began for Sparks (the company that owns Christian Mingle, JDate, and other faith-based singles sites) when two gay men noticed that the site did not allow them to search for singles of the same sex. They sued under a unique California law known as the Unruh Civil Rights Act, which mandates "all business establishments of every kind whatsoever" to treat every person within the jurisdiction as free and equal regardless of sex, race, religion, marital status, and sexual orientation, among other things. It's not the first time the law has been used as a stepping stone for e-dating reform.
The case has been languishing in California courts since 2013, so the settlement comes as a relief to some. Under the agreement, the company admits no wrongdoing and agrees to change all of its sites to allow gay singles to search for other gay singles (or other non-heterosexual persons) looking to start a relationship. Additionally, each plaintiff will be awarded $9,000 and lawyers' fees.
Social media, as always, has reflected the entire gamut of reactions, including approval and cynicism. Critics of the settlement have dubbed the result "disgraceful" and made allusions to "Jim Crow" while others have snapped back and characterized the settlement as a victory for those within the LGBT community who want alternatives to Grindr.
Although a significant move, practitioners should keep in mind that the settlement has no precedential effect.
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