Chalk up another great victory for equality.
As a result of a settlement flowing from a class action brought by two gay plaintiffs, a number of Christian internet dating sites cannot anymore offer merely two search option â€“ â€œMen looking for womenâ€ and â€œWomen looking for menâ€ â€“ but have to provide options for same-sex religious dating.
The action was brought against Spark Networks Inc, which owns and runs a number of niche net dating sites, including Christian Mingle, Catholic Mingle, Adventist Singles and LDS Singles for those Mormons looking for love in all the wrong places. The relevant Californian state law, the Unruh Civil Rights Act, mandates that â€œbusiness establishmentsâ€ have to offer â€œfull and equal accommodationsâ€ to people regardless of their sexual orientation.
A few thoughts:
1) Iâ€™m no expert on jurisdictional issues in the United States, but I assume the defendant Spark was targeted as a business registered and based in California. Then again, with the extraterritoriality inherent in the way the internet works, it probably wonâ€™t matter in the long term where a business is headquartered when it conducts its business everywhere.
2) I know this was a matter of principle rather than practicality, but I wonder how many gay Seventh Day Adventists there are who will now be able to use Adventist Singles.
3) Waiting for someone to sue Muslima, LoveHabibi and any number of other Muslim internet dating sites. After all, why should only Christians be forced to do things that go against their religious beliefs?
4) In fact, why stop there? OnlyWomen is a â€œgay owned and operated companyâ€ that runs a dating website/app â€œexclusively for lesbian and bisexual womenâ€. What if Iâ€™m not a lesbian or bisexual woman, or not a woman at all, but still want to use the site? Or what about OnlyLads, Gay.com, Grindr and any number of gay dating sites? Doesnâ€™t providing a service exclusively to one particular group exclude and discriminates against all others? Shouldnâ€™t Grindr also have to cater to straight people too?
All this discrimination stuff is getting quite complicated, so asking for a friend.