Generally when we think of marriage between first cousins, images of Alabama come to mind. And while you may think that the idea of marrying your cousin is repulsive, it’s actually LEGAL in 25 states… and several social and religious groups even promote it.
According to a recent New York Times article, most Americans are disturbed by the idea of cousin-on-cousin action, and many married cousins report suffering from social stigma and strained family relations.Â Truthfully, it’s less uncommon than you think. Once upon a time I was dating a guy for a full year when he revealed to me that his parents were first cousins. This was after I had met his whole family, who were well-off real estate investors with a name that most New Yorkers would recognize. I stayed with him for several more years, and we would often joke that he needed me for the sake of his gene pool, assuming we ever had kids. We never had kids, and the result of his offspring has yet to be determined.
Most people assume that children of first cousins inevitably are born deformed or with health issues. Or that the family structure is somewhat like the photo below.
New scientific evidence, however, suggests that cousin marriages don’t significantly increase the likelihood of birth defects. As a result, there’s a growing movement towards lifting the stigma and remaining anti-cousin marriage laws. Outside the U.S. more than 10 percent of marriages occur between cousins, and several cultures even consider the children of cousins “genetic preservation.”
It should be noted that the study and graphs in this article were sent to me by a sometimes-lesbian 2nd cousin of mine. Hmm.