In a judge-ordered settlement, Spark Networks, the company that owns ChristianMingle as well as sites like CatholicMingle, AdventistSinglesConnection and BlackSingles, agreed to change its options for users – “man seeking woman” and “woman seeking man” – because they violated California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on sex or sexual orientation.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Spark will change its front page options to ask for users’ gender only, and not their sexual orientation. But the question remains: Will LGBTQ people of faith actually feel the need to use a site that only seems to be accepting them begrudgingly?
With the rise of community-specific online dating services, queer people of faith have largely been excluded from more “mainstream” Christian sites like ChristianMingle or eHarmony (which created a separate service, Compatible Partners, in lieu of creating an option for gay and lesbian singles on the original site). That means those who hope to find a partner online have had to look elsewhere, from Tinder to Grindr to okCupid.
While non-religious dating sites or apps might well be LGBTQ-friendly, finding a match as a Christian can be quite a feat. First and foremost, queer Christians aren’t exactly a massive population.
“It is difficult for LGBT Christians who are looking to date other Christians – specifically other Christians who are looking to date Christians of the same sex – because it’s just difficult to find those people,” Justin Lee, executive director of the Gay Christian Network, a support community for LGBT Christians, said by phone on Tuesday. “You’re talking about a minority within a minority.”