Maybe you caught the news that gay singles will be able to mingle online — at ChristianMingle.com, that is.
The Wall Street Journal reports:
The owner of online dating site ChristianMingle.com has agreed to let gay and lesbian users search for same-sex matches under a judge-approved settlement of discrimination claims.
Two gay men filed class-actions claims against Spark Networks Inc.in California courts in 2013 alleging that ChristianMingle.com and several other sites in the company’s portfolio of niche dating services excluded users looking to meet singles of the same sex.
ChristianMingle, billed as the largest online community for Christian singles, required new users to specify whether they’re a man seeking a woman or a woman seeking a man. The lead plaintiffs, two gay men who tried using it, claimed that the limited options violated California’s anti-discrimination law.
Known as the Unruh Civil Rights Act, the state law requires “business establishments” to offer “full and equal accommodations” to people regardless of their sexual orientation.
Keep reading, and the WSJ provides details on the terms approved by a state judge and notes that Spark Networks agreed to pay each plaintiff $9,000, plus $450,000 in attorneys' fees. The newspaper quotes one of the plaintiffs' attorneys, who is "gratified" by the settlement. Spark Networks, meanwhile, is "pleased to resolve this litigation."
End of story.
Yes, I recognize that this is a quick-hit news story — all of 10 paragraphs.
But is it really possible to report this story without a single mention of, you know, religion?
Is this purely a business story? Is civil rights the only issue at play? Or is there another factor that should be considered?
Are there crucial questions that should be asked about where this scenario fits within the First Amendment? Isn't there a constitutional prohibition against "impeding the free exercise of religion?" If so, why are the rules different in California?
Is this just another sign that freedom of religion no longer extends beyond the church doors (if there)?
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Update: Kate Shellnutt with Christianity Today shared a link to a post in which she provides some important details on the ChristianMingle.com story: