Map of US states where first cousin marriage is legal

 ~Smrs 1840024
In most states, it is illegal to marry someone of the same sex. In other states, it is legal to be married to your first cousin. While looking at gay marriage inequalities, Mac McClelland was inspired to make a map showing where kissing cousins can make an honest man/woman out of each other. "Map of the Day: Cousin Lovin'"


  1. There is ZERO excuse for using cherry red AND brick red on a infographic with three divisions.

    1. I wonder about that, millrick. If two same-sex cousins wanted to marry, would it be allowed? Where’s the infographic on that?

  2. fyi that chart sucks for ppl with colorblindness. the red and green are identical.

    in before ‘who gives a shit about those 2 people’, 10% of males are colorblind

  3. The whole having your aunt the same as you mother in law thing is just creepy (same for the male side).

  4. So the argument that gay marriage would lead to incest, among other things, is entirely backwards.

  5. Most people assume that marrying a first cousin is problematic. Statistically, having children with your first cousin produces the same rate of genetic and birth defects for those children as in the general population.

    I had to be careful how I worded that though. I almost wrote – Marrying your cousin gives you the same rate of genetic and birth defends as the general population.

    Then I almost changed it to – Marrying your cousin gives you the same rate of genetic and birth defects for your children as the general population. (Leaving open the very real possibility that the children might be produced outside the marriage.)

    At any rate, I find this science encouraging both for endangered species and for small geographically isolated tribes. Including those in the Appalachian region.

    1. Statistically, having children with your first cousin produces the same rate of genetic and birth defects for those children as in the general population.

      Untrue. Some studies that suggest that first cousin marriages have significantly higher rates of birth defects. Although, in some of those studies, they’re looking at populations that have been inbreeding or centuries or millennia. The jury is still out on the risks.

      1. >Untrue. Some studies that suggest that first cousin marriages have significantly higher rates of birth defects. Although, in some of those studies, they’re looking at populations that have been inbreeding or centuries or millennia. The jury is still out on the risks.

        absolutely, just as the jury is still out on the efficacy of polygraphs, the death penalty, and adding sales tax at the register.

    2. A bit of genetics background first: First cousins share 1/8 of their gene loci. If they choose to have children, each child will share 1/16 of their gene loci.

      Now, you can argue this one way or another and it is largely dependent on ones family history. If one is negative for familiar genetic abnormalities then the risk they will have a child with a birth defect is probably low. It is not the same as the population risk, but it is close to the population risk.

      However, if you are talking about families with history of genetic defects then these can be a much higher. For instance, with the autosomal recessive disease Tay Sachs, the population risk is about 1 in 360,000. But within the Ashkenazi Jewish population in Israel the risk is closer to 1 in 3,600.

      Now knowing all of this, if one is going to marry their first cousin and they are going to have children, the best thing they can do is consult their doctor who will recommend they speak with a genetic counselor to evaluate their risks and help them decide the best way they can proceed.

  6. Not surprising. When David Cross did his sold-out stand-up show here in Texas in the early oughties, he mentioned how our state was repealing the bestiality laws at the same time it was strengthening the “sodomy” laws, sending a very strange message: Go ahead and fuck animals, as long as they are differently gendered.

  7. That’s pretty sick to think you can legally marry your uncle’s kids, but you can’t legally settle down with your boyfriend or girlfriend if they’re the same gender as you.

    I can’t even think of anything snarky to say about it. It’s just sick for people to accept inbreeding, but not gay marriage. In a way, gay marriage is the polar opposite of inbreeding, in that biological offspring cannot result. So two cousins can produce a little of ten shrieking waterheads and that’s fine, right? But a couple of women can’t wear each other’s ring and file their taxes together because… well, I don’t know why. So far we haven’t heard any good reasons why. I guess Jesus loves waterhead babies.

    1. Uh. I think the point is that relationships between consensual adults should generally be permitted, “waterhead babies” or no.

  8. People are surprised when I tell them first-cousin marriage isn’t illegal in Canada. They also give me very strange looks. Hey, I’m just stating facts, OK?

  9. Aren’t “kissing cousins” second cousins or further removed from each other? I’m pretty sure marrying your kissing cousin is legal everywhere.

  10. The real shocker on the map is Kentucky. When they outlawed marrying cousins, only outlaws got married.

  11. Among small tribes with limited options, males may marry their mothers’ brothers’ daughters but not their fathers’ brothers’ daughters. Similar asymmetries apply to other pairings.

    And don’t knock the “automatically compatible” angle – trust me it’s physical as well as romantic. Ain’t no luvvin like marrying your cousin!

  12. Oh … no. You did NOT just disseminate this information.

    Now the drunken 2am calls from my cousins are going to get kick-started again. (After all my effort it took in convincing them that we couldn’t get married in this state. Yeah, I lied.)

  13. actual content of this map notwithstanding, graphically it does not work for those of us who are colorblind. How am I to know which states I can marry my cousin and which ones have caveats? to all color using information providers out there – make your different information high contrast!

  14. Yeah seriously, this chart hurts my eyes. I’m colorblind, so literally cannot differentiate between the red and the…red. Thanks guys.

  15. Damn it! I was so sure my native Mississippi would make the list. I guess they recognize the risk they run….

  16. “I guess it would be a good way to freak out our parents!” Aw, man, AD is in steady rotation right now!

  17. This is kind of an interesting moral question actually.

    I had a couple of conversations about this last year when there was a TV show about some long lost siblings who’d been adopted separately, then met & fell in love. At around the same time, a British MP criticised (some) British Asian people for marrying their cousins, on the grounds that they would be more likely to have disabled children. And from the articles I read at the time, actually it’s only if several generations of cousins marry that it’s really an issue. But then, my colleagues and I work with disabled people, and would never argue that it was a bad thing for a disabled person to be born. The media doesn’t often seem to question this, but seems to elide the difference between causing a baby to become disabled (or injuring it or making it ill), as opposed to deciding whether to have kids or carry a pregnancy to full term or whatever (as opposed to the baby not being born at all) if there’s a risk of or if the baby is disabled.

    And then, if it’s not because of a risk of disability or illness, why exactly is it immoral to marry a cousin (or other relative for that matter)? We found it hard to come up with an answer. But still found the idea…icky.

    The best reason I could think of was that it’s associated with child abuse in people’s minds, and of course there’s plenty of reasons for that to be taboo and for people to be repulsed by something that reminds them of it. But, when it comes to consenting adults who happen to be related…especially if they grew up separately…it doesn’t seem quite so clear.

  18. Well, this explains a great deal. America, good luck with your future.

    Uh. Most of the world allows first cousin marriages including every country in Europe, South America, Central America and Middle East plus both Mexico and Canada.

    China is the biggest country to ban it and India selectively allows it depending on religion.

    1. Japan allows it, too. American anime fans tend to raise eyebrows at shows like Elfen Lied, Kanon, and SDF Macross.

      Cardcaptor Sakura too (Sonomi->Nadeshiko), but it’s got bigger issues. *coughTeradacough*

  19. I married my first cousin 13 years ago and we have 2 normal,(in fact, brillant, healthy and beautiful) children.
    As others have pointed out, the taboo against cousin marriage is strictly a North American phenomenon and is mostly baseless.
    I’ve read up to 20 percent of all marriages in the world are cousins.
    It can be dangerous in the long term for a community to become inbred, but unless you live within one of those communities,(if you’re a Gypsy or Amish etc…), than you can safely bang away at your hot cousin, and produce a litterful of totally normal kids, particulary if you go through a genetic screening like we did.

    My only worry is that my kids will have to deal with ridicule from hypocritical dooshbuckets who piously proclaim their support of gay marriage, then proceed to spew a bunch of half-informed discriminatory stereotypes about what a couple of retarded, banjo pluckin’ weirdos their parents are.
    Sex with your mom is icky, sex with your sister is icky. But if you’re like me, and didn’t have a familial relationship with your hot cousin other than sporadic meetings at weddings, funerals and reunions, making a drunken pass at her is risky, potentially embarrassing, but in my case, ended up in the best sex I ever had,what started as a kinky one-off bloomed into an excellent relationship, and with a bit of research, I came to realize that the cousin taboo is just a baseless as the homosexuality taboo.
    Face it, we all thought gay sex was ‘icky’ at some point in our lives, some of us, in spite of our pro-gay posturing, still do.
    You may laudably support gay marriage but would you receive head from a man? Why not? A BJ is a BJ right?
    Worried his stubble is gonna give you a rash? Or does the thought of it ick you out?
    If the fight for gay rights has taught us anything, its that we are entitled to our revulsion of other people’s sexual behavior, but not entitled to judge or ridicule them,(as long as it’s consensual and doesn’t involve kids, of course).
    So, in the spirit of intellectual consistency, lets cease with the hillbilly jokes, shall we?

    1. “Why not? A BJ is a BJ right?”
      … What?
      I have an experiment for you, get head from another one of your cousins, then explain to your wife that it’s okay because a BJ is a BJ, and she doesn’t have a right to object because she must support relations between cousins.

      I don’t care for the idea of regulating the consensual activities of other adults, and believe that the evidence shows that in most cases cousin-marriage is unlikely to result in a higher incidence of birth defects.
      But I wouldn’t accept a blow-job from any of my cousins. Because I’m not attracted to any of them.
      Do you understand that my attraction (or lack thereof) to men or cousins is completely orthogonal to my support for their rights?

      @ #47 jennybean42
      They could’ve kept all red, but using a greater difference in contrast, rather than hue.

  20. Marrying your first cousin is legal in Texas.
    Having sex with your first cousin is a second degree felony.

    Tex. Penal Code 25.02(6)

    (please take an especial note that having sex with your first cousin is a higher degree felony than sex with your child)

    1. I actually thought that in 2005 they banned cousin marriage and it is still illegal. Had that changed recently?

  21. It’s my understanding that generally if a marriage is valid where it’s performed (let’s say State A), it’ll be recognized in another state (State B) even if State B wouldn’t otherwise allow that marriage.

    Of course, this rule of construction doesn’t apply to gay marriages because…well, because we’re a big bunch of fucking bigots, I suppose.

  22. Technically, it is “okay, but do it elsewhere” everywhere in the United States, given that heterosexual marriage is universally recognized as a legal contract, so long as it meets a given state’s standards.

  23. My mother has friends she met in back in college who are first cousins and married each other. They produced a child with severe mental defects. He died before he reached his teens.

  24. @#42: I know quite a few people who aren’t related at all, who had children die because of genetic defects or have severe genetic defects. It happens, as sad as it is.

  25. If there was an elevated chance of defects, would that make the law OK? That is Eugenics. Yet Eugenics got a bad name from the people that got worked up about it to the degree of killing and maimnig, so i’m not necessarily condemning the ‘Law about defects = OK’ stance, especially in an age of great pre implantation diagnostics.
    Just saying.

  26. I live in Austin, Texas, and just got married yesterday. (Yay!) When we got our marriage license at the Travis County Clerk’s Office a few weeks ago, we had to sign something stating that we were not cousins in any way. (Also that we weren’t brother and sister even if it was only by marriage.) We also had a conversation with the girl making us sign it about how she had to turn people away who *were* cousins and how they were sad. Consequently, I question this otherwise nifty map.

  27. hahah!… my friends (they’re sisters) parents are first cousins, and they’re mostly normal. Although their dad was a bit weird to start with. ; )… doesn’t stop us taking the piss out of them for it though… As others have pointed out, it’s genetically sound.

  28. I think the shades of red on the map are intentional– designed to show the “varying degrees” of cousin marriage being legal.
    Still sucks for the colorbind, though.

  29. My father’s older sister married my mother’s younger uncle. No one married into their own family, yet I’m related to (at least) three people on both sides of the family. Can you imagine if I married their daughter (my first-cousin-slash-second-cousin)?

    To quote Eugene Morris Gerome, we’d have babies with nine heads.

    I’ve always wondered about those Seven Brides for Seven Brothers people. Everyone is married to their brother/sister-in law? Your kids are also your nephews and nieces? WTF?

  30. i have nothing against people who marry their cousins but i personally am repulsed by the thought of marrying my cousins, but i completely support others who want to

  31. There is nothing wrong with marrying your cousins, or even consentual acts between brother’s and sisters. The whole “you will have mental retarded children” is a ploy to scare people. Show me a study that is legitimit, that shows these claims are true. Mental retardation or bad genes can be crossed in any two people, it’s really a hit or miss thing. So before you believe lies that the government tells you, make sure you know the truth. If the government told you black people and whites produce stupid children, would you believe that? Absolutely not, but some of you are foolish enough to believe something like this that is frivilous and has no basis for standing. It’s called natural selection and breeding close has advantages just as breeding with distant genes does. P.S. Darwin at one time was married to his cousin.

  32. I just think there are too many people in the world for you to go ahead and choose to marry your out of all people your cousin. Whatever happened to communication? If you’re not stuck for some reason living in a village with a low population. you should go out in the world and save your family the anguish of marrying a relative. We’re in the 21st century and we’re not savages.

  33. People say theres billion people in the world,why have relationship with a person whose married?a person whose same sex?people with disability? why we are married to 1 person only?because we are inlove regardless of situation. what about inbreeding leads to defect in the future?look at us we turned out okay, regardless of religion/science we at some point started out small,assumed we are not as inform as what is wrong and what is right compare to now. it is just a matter of preference individuals are unique.if its science,does science or any other means prevent you to fall inlove?

    Those who oppose, does your upbringing have anything to do with your judgement?probably so. does the teaching include not to have an affair with married person?does it hurt you when its so hard to let go.

    Point is government law shouldnt have any say about personal choices as long 2 people are happy with that choice. You can counsel them about the risk but thats about it.Rules/laws should just stick with crimes done to another person and preventing chaos with the majority.Or else my maker didnt create me to have to follow rules down to my own personal preferences.

  34. I see good points and bad points in cousins marrying each other… I’m actually dealing with a problem like that right now… It just sort of happened unexpectedly, and I have strong feelings for him just as he does for me, we just didn’t know how to break it to the family quite yet, and well his parents (my great aunt & great uncle) ended up finding out, and they are furious… We care for each other very much, and neither one of us wants to let the other one go, but at the same time, we both saw how bad it got when his parents found out that we secretly started a relationship… my only concern is do I follow my heart and be with the one that I love and for once put myself first and deal with all the “consequences” that come along with it or do I ignore how I feel and hope that I get over my feelings for him and possibly go the rest of my life thinking “what if”??? I never thought this would happen to me, I just wish people would be more understanding…

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