Sex Roles

, Volume 78, Issue 7–8, pp 482–500 | Cite as

The Intersection of Gender, Sexuality, and Religion in Mormon Mixed-Sexuality Marriages

  • Elizabeth Legerski
  • Anita Harker
Original Article


Mixed-sexuality marriages (MSMs) are defined in the present study as those where one partner identifies as heterosexual and the other partner identifies as gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer or reports experiencing same-sex attraction. Members of conservative religions, such as Mormonism, may be more likely to enter MSMs given the religion’s stance on homosexuality and doctrinal emphasis on heteronormative marriage. Using data from 56 interviews with individuals who either have been or currently are Mormon and in a MSM, we explore participants’ ideas about gender roles and sexuality in the context of their ideas about Mormonism. We find that couples’ ideas about gender, sexuality, and religion intersect to act as a resource or impediment to marital satisfaction. Among our sample, most couples maintain an outward appearance of heteronormativity; some view their private departure from the traditional gender order as a benefit to their relationship, whereas others view it as a source of strain and work hard to minimize gender deviance in their roles. The findings provide an important example of the way gender and religion are mutually constitutive and illustrate how notions of sexuality are sometimes used to reinforce a traditional gender order and religious beliefs, whereas at other times, the contradictions of MSMs challenge traditional gender norms and religious orthodoxy.


Mormons Mixed-sexuality marriage Mixed-orientation marriage Gender roles Sexuality Religion LGBQ Sexual identity Sexual orientation 



The present research supported in part by a Midwest Sociological Society Research Endowment Grant and a University of North Dakota Senate Scholarly Activities Grant.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest

This research was supported in part by a Midwest Sociological Society Research Endowment Grant and a University of North Dakota Senate Scholarly Activities Grant. We do not believe this creates any conflicts of interest.

Research Involving Human Participants and/or Animals

This research involves human participants. All study materials and protocols have been approved by the Institutional Review Boards of Utah State University and the University of North Dakota.

Informed Consent

All participants in this study consented to participate in the online survey and an in-depth interview. The informed consent materials have been approved by the Institutional Review Boards of Utah State University and the University of North Dakota.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of North DakotaGrand ForksUSA
  2. 2.Department of Social SciencesWhatcom Community CollegeBellinghamUSA

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