Michael Lee and Angela Peang are just about like any other couple in love. After getting married in March 2019, the two are happily expecting their first child together.
The catch? Michael and Angela are first cousins.
Michael and Angela got married in Colorado, where it’s perfectly legal for first cousins to marry each other if they want to. For reference, Angela’s dad is the older brother of Michael’s mom, so they’re like … super related. Unfortunately for these two lovebirds, they live in Utah, where it is decidedly not legal to marry your cousin. Go figure!
Now that Angela is pregnant, the law has irrefutable proof that Michael and Angela have, um, consummated the marriage.
In Utah, this means that they could face up to $10,000 in fines and jail time.
Utah bans marriage between first cousins because the risk of medical conditions in any potential babies goes up a few percentage points. But Angela and Michael say this doesn’t worry them. “We had to do our due diligence because everyone was saying to us, ‘No, don’t do that,’ and ‘It’s so risky and irresponsible,'” Angela explained. “So we did genetic testing and found out it was OK for us to parent together.”
Also, as it happens, marriage between first cousins is legal in over half of the US.
The two naturally have a long relationship, which started when Angela was 7. She and her family had just returned to live in the United States, and Michael and his family came over for a visit. “There was an instant connection between us. We were very much simpatico,” Michael says.
As the years passed, the two parted and then later reconnected in 2018, after finding out they were both divorced. One thing led to another, and here we are. Angela says they got married for their family more than anything. “We got married, not because we’re religious, but to protect ourselves legally. We also wanted to legitimize our relationship to console members of our family, hoping it would put them at ease.”
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