Can a gay man and a straight woman have a happy marriage?
The Mormon church doesn’t consider being gay — or having “same-sex attraction” as they call it — a sin. But a same-sex marriage is one. For that reason, LGBTQ Mormons often enter into mixed-orientation marriages, where they marry someone with a different sexual orientation.
Blaine and Lindsay Hickman have been married for almost 15 years. Although they were close friends, it wasn’t until after high school that Blaine came out to Lindsay and his family. And while his family would have been supportive of him entering a same-sex relationship, he chose to pursue one with Lindsay, so he could raise a family in the Mormon church.
“We believe in marriage between a man and a woman because we believe that together they progress through eternity,” Lindsay said in Thursday’s episode of Mic Dispatch. “That’s why temple marriage is important. It seals together families, technically couples and their families, to them for eternity.”
Blaine and Lindsay attribute the success of their marriage to open and honest communication. But according to John Dehlin, whose research looked specifically at those either currently in, or once in, a mixed-orientation marriage, the chances of them staying together are very slim.
“Basically our estimates were about 70% of those who entered into a mixed orientation marriage, either got divorced or would be divorced by the time their lives ended,” Dehlin said.
Besides the high divorce rate, Dehlin states that those in mixed-orientation marriages also have higher rates of depression, sexual identity distress and low levels of self-esteem. Danny Caldwell is also Mormon and was in a mixed-orientation marriage for 10 years before filing for divorce. Caldwell says he suffered from severe depression and has attempted suicide.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide rates in Utah have increased by almost 50% since 1999, and those who identify as LGBTQ experience higher rates of mental health disorders and suicides than the national population.
The Mormon church has not taken a specific stand on whether they support mixed-orientation marriages.
“We believe that marriage and family are central to God’s plan for His children,” a spokesperson for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints said in a statement to Mic. “Marriage is defined by God as the union between a man and a woman. We reach out with love to our LGBT brothers and sisters.”
Blaine and Lindsay said they would choose their marriage if given an ultimatum by the church.
“The church is a tool to help me be connected with God,” Blaine said.
“I feel like that’s what fuels us is like having an eternal perspective — that we aren’t just who we are now,” Lindsay said. “We go on forever and that’s kind of comforting for me to know that life just doesn’t end.”
Check out episode 22 of Mic Dispatch above — only on Facebook Watch.