ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Kissing Cousins and Marraige

Updated on April 15, 2011

Cousin Marriage

After reading an article about kissing cousins, I found myself learning that the topic holds a whole lot of history, and controversy.

Marriages between cousins are often quite stigmatized today, mainly here in the West. But, they actually account for over 10% of marriages worldwide. In some Middle Eastern nations, cousin marriages account for over half of all marriages.

Depending on the area, and the culture, these relationships are looked upon as either ideal, encouraged, uncommon but legal, incestuous or unlawful.

Culture and Love

Ensuring that cultural values are kept intact is one reason for cousin marriage. Other reasons include preserving family wealth, tradition, distance between groups, . . .
and just plain being in love!

The following is a quote from the website, Cousin Couples
Love is an intoxicating gift. Love will cause people to do things they might not do normally. For instance, cousin and interracial marriages. Love sees through cultural boundaries. Love doesn't care what someone else may think. The "normal" boundaries seem insignificant when you are in love.

The common discussion among many is that there are birth defects when two people so closely related marry. The truth of the matter is that the chance of such an occurrence is much lower than you would think, with the risk at about 2% over the average of 3% for non-cousin couples. The risk is about the same for a woman who gives birth after the age of 40 years. The rate does increase the closer the the consanguinity, or shared genetic DNA. The percentage decreases significantly the further back the generation of the common ancestor. For example, there are four times the shared DNA for first cousins, as there are for second cousins.

As one would expect, if there is are repeated generations of first cousin marriages, the incidence of genetic disorders is much higher, as much as 13 times more likely.

State Laws Regarding Married Cousins

In the United States, the division is almost 50/50 in regards to which will, or will not recognize two from the same family from marrying, and the language within the laws vary.

In some states the marriage is "prohibited or void if the parties are first cousins or any nearer of kin to each other, whether of the whole or half blood" -  allowing for first cousins by adoption only. Some states uphold the above even in the case of adoption.

Other states go so far as to list every imaginable match not being allowed, except cousins; one lists a prohibited marriage as one where the parties are more closely related to each other than the fourth degree of consanguinity.

Fines and penalties range from a $500 dollar fine, to anywhere from one to twenty years in prison.

Five American states (Wisconsin, Utah, Indiana, Illinois and Arizona) permit cousin marriage when the couple will not bear children (not sure how this is enforced).

North Carolina only prohibits the marriage of double first cousins (very rare occurrence)

Maine permits the marriage only with genetic counseling.

The argument against these laws is that many of them were passed before modern genetic knowledge, and they feel they are thus, baseless. 

Famous Cousin Couples

  • Charles Darwin, and first cousin, Emma Wedgwood
  • Albert Einstein, and first cousin (through his mother) and second cousin (through his father), Elsa Lowenthal nee Einstein
  • Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., and second cousin, Amelia Lee Jackson
  • Jesse James and first cousin, Zerelda Zee Mimms
  • Thomas Jefferson, and third cousin Martha Wayles
  • Jerry Lee Lewis, and first cousin once removed, Myra Gale Brown
  • Edgar Allan Poe, and his cousin, Virginia Clemm
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt, and fifth cousin once removed, Anna Eleanor Roosevelt
  • H.G. Wells, and first cousin Isabel Mary Wells
  • John Adams, and third cousin, Abigail Smith
  • Henry VIII - three of his six wives were cousins
  • Johann Sebastien Bach, and cousin Maria Barbara Bach
  • Rudy Giuliani, and second cousin Regina Peruggi

The Controversy Continues

The controversy will most likely continue as cousins for various reasons continue to marry.

Whether due to arrangement by family, social acceptance in their country, or because of undying love, cousin couples seem to find the union worth the stigma attached to kissing cousins.


Submit a Comment

No comments yet.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)