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Christian Mingle has already changed its homepage to ask users about their own gender and let them select their own search parameters.“Like all other companies, we must abide by the laws that govern our state and nation,” said Michael Egan, Spark Networks CEO. California pastor and national advisory board member Bryan Loritts told CT he had no idea Sparks Networks would be offering same-sex matches until it came out in the news.The company brought in million last year running niche sites including JDate.com, LDSSingles.com, Catholic Mingle.com, and Adventist Singles Connection.com, as well as sites for black, aging, and deaf daters.The settlement applies to a few other Sparks Networks sites.Courts in multiple states have recently weighed whether Christian wedding vendors can refuse same-sex couples, and California lawmakers have proposed new restrictions designed to eliminate many existing faith and sexuality requirements at religious colleges.Christian will open its 16 million-member site to gay and lesbian users following an anti-discrimination lawsuit.According to a settlement approved by a California judge last week, the country’s most popular Christian dating site will offer options for same-sex matches, rather than limiting searches to “a man seeking a woman or a woman seeking a man,” the reported.Founder Neil Clark Warren later said the same-sex marriage debate “really damaged” e Harmony, which began in partnership with Focus on the Family, but distanced itself to reach a broader swath of users.
“There is no greater agenda at hand here at Christian Mingle than uniting Christian men and women for the sake of finding happy and healthy lifelong relationships.” While Spark Networks is not a Christian company, it relies on Christian advisors to “provide guidance and feedback.” Dallas-area Southern Baptist pastor Clayton Coates said his contributions to Christian Mingle and its affiliated focused on a biblical understanding of marriage as between one man and one woman. The 11-year-old site has not seen a decline in members or new registrations following the June 27 settlement.Coates told CT he stepped down from the seven-member board following the settlement decision. Christian Mingle profiles feature details about denominational affiliation and church attendance, but members represent a range of beliefs and practices.The plaintiffs in the case sued Christian Mingle in 2013 for violating a California civil rights law requiring “all business establishments of every kind whatsoever” to offer full accommodations regardless of a person’s sexual orientation (among more than a dozen other protected classes).A spokesperson for Christian Mingle’s parent company, Spark Networks Inc., said in an email to CT that they recognize “this is a divisive issue and hope that the greater good of our mission is what people appreciate about us.” Christian Mingle, known for its commercials promising to “find God’s match for you,” is the largest dating site owned by Spark Networks.
A 2014 survey found that 61 percent of users would have sex before marriage and 34 percent would be open to marrying outside the Christian faith.Faced with a similar anti-discrimination lawsuit out of New Jersey, e Harmony launched a spinoff site for gay daters in 2009.