Christian dating sites have been forced to cater for an LGBT audience after it was judged they contravened anti-discrination laws.
Until now prominent religious sites such as ChristianMingle.com and LDS singles, "the largest dating site by Mormons for Mormons" have only advertised for heterosexual relationships. ChristianMingle.com is considered the largest Christian dating site and had only given users the option of choosing whether they are a man seeking a woman or a woman seeking a man.
Two gay men filed class-actions claims against the website owner Spark Network Inc, claiming it violated state laws that requires businesses to offer "full and equal accommodations" to people regardless of sexual orientation.
The case reached a settlement under which the homepage of Spark Networks-owned ChristianMingle.com now only asks users whether they are a "man" or a "woman". The company has agreed to change the features of their websites to offer LGBT singles a more tailored experience.
The terms of the settlement also apply to other Spark Networks websites including CatholicMingle.com, AdventistSinglesConnection.com and BlackSingles.com. But other Christian dating sites such as ChristianSingles.com still only offer heterosexual options.
Spark Networks agreed to pay the plaintiffs $9,000 each and $450,000 in legal fees.
Vineet Dubey,one of the plaintiff's attorneys of Custodio & Dubey LLP, said in a statement: "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."
A spokesperson from Sparks Networks said the company was "pleased to resolve this litigation".