Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Only in Arkansas

Well, no, not really. It’s illegal in Arkansas. I was getting myself all worked up and ready to start in on this one Cousins Marrying Cousins. Thought it would behoove me to actually find out exactly how many states it is legal to marry your cousin. I was surprised. Quite a few actually, twenty-one, and more “with conditions or restrictions.” Interestingly enough, it’s legal in more states than it is not. See the list, all nicely-color coded for quick and easy reference, Legal States. It is illegal in Arkansas. Okay, Mississippi, then? Nope. And, not Kentucky, either. When “we” make jokes about Southerners, or Red-Necks, these are the states that tend to be much-abused in this manner and are typically used first. There is a comedian – Jeff Foxworthy – who based his entire monologue around Redneck Jokes. “You might be a redneck if … your sister is also your cousin,” Yeah, okay, not all that funny, but after a few beers… Never mind. Anyway, I was quite surprised to find out that twenty-one states allow you to marry your cousin – I have been under the impression for a long, long time that it was illegal in the States – in all but just a SMALL handful of states – not almost half! And, then to find that the state that I consider to be “home,” which is North Carolina, at this point – um-hmm – it’s on the list, too! However, it has some sort of restriction: You are allowed to marry your first cousin, but “double cousin marriage is prohibited.” Duh! You’re only allowed to marry two people here, in Saudi Arabia, or in Utah!

Needless to say, to find out that cousins marrying cousins isn’t nearly as “taboo” as I was originally under the impression that it was, that less than half of the states [twenty-four] prohibit it, and that North Carolina actually condones this, well, kinda just sorta took the wind right out of that sail.


  1. I saw a whole program about this on 60 Minutes or another program. There are a lot of ppl starting to marry their cousins in the States. It's rampant here but it's starting to be a thing in the West as well. And.. they said that they couples don't have children w/ problems like originally thought. hmmmmm, interesting. Altho, I find the whole situation weird. I know several ppl here who have married their first cousins.

  2. I recently discovered that cousin-cousin marriage is legal in the UK as well.

    I'm not an expert on human genetics, but I have always imagined that one cousin marriage / set of children is OK, it's when there is a long chain of such marriages. Then you end up with that Saudi family one of the papers featured, an entire mini-tribe out in the desert, all blind. And allowing cousin marriages opens the legal route for serial cousin marriages. So it's an argument for banning them in those societies where they would be a problem.

  3. cousin-cousin marriage is perfectly legal here up North too. The parents of a friend of mine were cousins, (come to think of it, he is a bit eccentric)


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