In a stunning display of judicial overreach, a California judge has ruled that the website ChristianMingle.com is guilty of discrimination because it offers dating services only for Christians who are attracted to people of the opposite sex. According to The Wall Street Journal:
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.
But this is not a case of failing to provide equal access to services. This is a case where LGBT lobbyists demanded that a business provide a new service it had never offered previously. Contrary to some media reports, ChristianMingle.com didn’t blocked users who identified as LGBT; it just didn’t offer a service they wanted. But that’s not discrimination, as the following example will make clear:
Imagine if a man who is attracted to women went to the website allmale.com only to find out he could not be matched with women. He is even “shocked” to see the company’s mission statement says, “AllMale is designed exclusively for gay and bisexual men and features everything you will need to connect with guys from your area and from all over the globe.”
Has the heterosexual man become a victim of discrimination? Not any more than a vegetarian is a victim of discrimination when he orders a salad at a butcher shop.
Should cut both ways
If people who identify as LGBT can have dating services that meet their needs exclusively, then why can’t people with opposite sex attractions, especially people who belong to a faith community with specific teachings on God’s plan for sexuality, have the same thing? What about that kind of equal treatment? Even intellectually honest pro-gay atheists think this is outrageous. David Smalley, the host of the Dogma Debate podcast said this could adversely affect the business he owns:
According to this logic, a judge would be able to rule that “Secular Media Group discriminates based on religion, by not offering podcasts or books for potential Christian, Muslim, or Jewish customers” thereby forcing me, by way of a judge’s ruling, to begin offering religious-based materials so that potential religious customers aren’t offended by what I don’t offer.
This is personal for Smalley, because he once discriminated against Christian customers but saw nothing wrong with it:
In 2013, my company was approached by Benny Hinn Ministries who tried to get us to do Christian voiceovers. I declined because I disagree with their message and didn’t want to put my voice to a “prayer healing” video that I felt was misleading people. That’s my right as a business owner. According to Unruh, that would be a violation. I simply refused the work for religious reasons, and I cannot imagine living in a society in which the government would step in and force me to do those voiceovers so that Benny Hinn wasn’t offended by my rejection.
Values in the public square
Smalley is right on target. I once worked as a freelance videographer, and I would have refused to help create a documentary that promotes atheism, just as Smalley refused to help a project that promotes Christianity. A business should have the right to promote not just its services or products in the public square but also its core values.
This answers the objection that ChristianMingle.com offers only “dating services,” and so if it doesn’t have a feature that allows LGBT users to date one another it is denying those customers equal access to its website. But many Christian dating services are not out to just offer “dating services.” They are in the business of helping create Christian marriages and bring people together who share those values. Consider how avemariasingles describes itself on its website:
We want to help you find the spouse God created for you. We have spent fifteen years building a community of active, passionate Catholics focused on forming meaningful and fulfilling relationships. Every member of the AveMariaSingles community shares your desire to experience all the blessings and challenges of a true Catholic marriage.
Here we have a company whose “service” is to provide a means for people to find “the spouse God created for [them]” so that they can have a “true Catholic marriage.” For faithful Catholics, this mission would logically entail helping people find a person of the opposite sex who also values his or her Catholic Faith. The fact that avemariasingles does not promote casual hookups, interfaith dating, or same-sex relationships is not discrimination. It’s just an example of diversity in the public marketplace of ideas and services.
I’ll leave you with another comment from Smalley’s blog that represents a neat bit of common ground between a Catholic apologist and an atheist radio host. He says, “This is ridiculous. Either find a company that offers what you want, or start the company yourself. That’s the beauty of America.”
By Trent Horn