If a person wants to marry their cousin, can they do it legally in the state? This isn't Alabama, but some folks in New York State are sexually attracted to their own family.

Photo by Sandy Millar on Unsplash
Photo by Sandy Millar on Unsplash

What Are The Repercussions Of Incestuous Relationships?

Aside from the "ick" factor, there are actually health concerns for babies born out of incestuous relationships. According to The Foundation for Post-Traumatic Healing and Complex Trauma Research,

Incest is harmful in many ways, including genetically. When two closely related people have sex, and the female becomes pregnant, there is an increased risk of recessive gene disorders.

Some of the genetic disorders and health issues that can affect children whose parents are related include:

- Lower IQ Scores
- Blue Eyes
- Cystic Fibrosis
- Premature Birth
- Cleft Palate
- Heart Conditions
- Neonatal Mortality

Incestuous Relationships Have Occurred Throughout History

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As gross as it sounds, many cultures have embraced incestuous relationships and marriages. Royalty would marry relatives to keep bloodlines pure. Even recent religious sects in America have participated in inbreeding, forcing young girls to marry their cousins, uncles, or other relatives.

According to Ranker, Charles Darwin married his first cousin, and so did Queen Victoria and Albert Einstein. Even more disturbing is the fact that famed writer and poet Edgar Allan Poe married his 13-year-old cousin.

If you type in "incest throughout history" in a Google search you'll find many more examples of historical figures and families who embraced inbreeding.

Are Incestuous Marriages Illegal In New York?

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

If you want to marry a relative in New York State, can you do so legally? Well, the answer is both yes and no. According to New York State's Domestic Relations law, you could marry some of your blood relatives, but not others. Section 5, which covers "Incestuous and void marriages," specifically says that it is illegal to marry:

- An ancestor and a descendant
- A brother and sister of either the whole or the half blood
- An uncle and niece or an aunt and nephew

* It seems the law has not been updated to reflect same-sex marriages, specifically to ban an uncle from marrying a nephew and an aunt from marrying a niece. As well as, a brother from marrying a brother or a sister from marrying a sister.

While it doesn't spell it out, it would seem that the law prohibits a parent from marrying their offspring based on the ancestor and descendant clause. That would also likely apply to a grandparent and grandchild, etc.

However, the law does not specifically address the marriage of cousins, first, second, or beyond. So, there you have it...if you want to walk down the aisle with your "kissing cousin" in New York, you can.

****This article is not intended to provide legal advice or counsel.

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