Discrimination on dating sites

“Ultimately each one of our own individual choices is profoundly informed by the community we grow up in, perhaps by the relationships we had with our siblings or parents," Silverberg said.

"I mean, to try and unpack that would probably take years for each person and so…I don’t know…I give wide latitude to other people when they talk about the kind of people they’re into.” As we all should. I think we should just stop pretending that race is a preference.

Most services also encourage members to add photos or videos to their profile.

Once a profile has been created, members can view the profiles of other members of the service, using the visible profile information to decide whether or not to initiate contact.

So, while users exercised greater discretion in their stated preference, in practice their actions remained the same..

"Spark has engaged in a systemic and intentional pattern and practice of arbitrary discrimination against gays and lesbians throughout California by denying them full and equal services, accommodations, advantages and privileges in connection with many of its commercial dating services," reads the class-action complaint filed in December 2013.

As the Wall Street Journal points out, a California state law known as the Unruh Civil Rights Act mandates that "all business establishments of every kind whatsoever" treat every person within the jurisdiction as free and equal regardless of sex, race, religion, marital status and sexual orientation, among other things.

Most services offer digital messaging, while others provide additional services such as webcasts, online chat, telephone chat (VOIP), and message boards.

Members can constrain their interactions to the online space, or they can arrange a date to meet in person.