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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Happy Couple That Deserves Equality

I am bumping up this entry because it is as relevant as ever.

In the courtrooms and in public debate, we hear over and over again that when it comes to sex and relationships, consenting adults should be allowed to their sexuality and relationships. The bigotry against LGBT people has been largely driven off by this simple recognition of basic rights. Unfortunately, there is still much more bigotry and even prosecution against people who love more than one person, or love someone who is their cousin or closer relative.

Real people in loving relationships, people you may see every day, people who pay their taxes and work and don’t hurt anyone, are hurt by these archaic laws and lingering prejudices.

Liz and Ryan are a loving couple, living as husband and wife. They aren’t legally married because they can’t get legally married. In most places in the US, they could be prosecuted for having taken their relationship in a new direction. Why are they denied marriage equality? Because Liz and Ryan are brother and sister.

Some people recoil at that idea. Hopefully, not my regular readers. But people recoil at the idea various legal marriages and other relationships that aren’t criminalized. There have been heterosexual, nonconsanguineous couples where the thought of them being intimate has unsettled my stomach a bit. But I would never try to stop them. Why doesn’t the law support Liz and Ryan’s marriage?

If you recoil at the idea of them being married, as various siblings have been throughout history, please allow yourself to put aside your reaction for a moment and think through this logically. Read Liz’s account of her relationship with Ryan, and ask yourself what logical reason there is to deny these consenting adults their right to love, sex, and marriage. You don’t have to like what they’re doing, just recognize that people should have their rights, even if you don’t like the way they use those rights.

Liz wrote to me about Ryan…

All my life I looked up to him, and he's always been there for me. He's been the best big brother a girl could have, and we became very close. When we’d watch TV, he’d sometimes put his arm around me and I would rest my head on him.

Some siblings are horrible to each other. The world would be a better place if more siblings were like Ryan and Liz.

Ryan developed an attraction to Liz, but agonized over telling her.

He didn't know how to tell me, he didn't want to scare me or hurt our relationship. I could tell something was bothering him and finally one day we talked about it. It was difficult, but he told me how he felt. I was surprised, of course, but I also felt excited. I saw him in a new light, and realized how cute he really was.

During that talk, he kissed me once, on the lips. I felt something, like a spark almost, when he did. It only lasted a couple seconds but it excited me. Our relationship became even closer after that.

Before we took things further we did talk about it. He was very patient, and wanted to make sure I was comfortable with what we were doing. We started to become sexual with each other, but we took things slowly…He was patient and gentle, and eventually we became lovers. It was over a period of months from that first kiss to finally having regular intercourse. He didn’t rush me into it, though I know he was eager to do it. He told me that he never felt truly happy with any of his old girlfriends; it was me that made him happy. He told me just being around me made him feel good. You have no idea how special I felt when he told me that.

It developed like so many other sexual relationships.

It was a natural progression. We started with holding, rubbing and touching with clothes on at first, then later shirts off, and so on. He guided me but we went at my pace. We can usually tell how the other is feeling, so sometimes we didn't need to talk. He made sure to ask if I was okay with bigger steps, like trying oral sex and intercourse.

But there was an added depth to the relationship, too.

When we were touching each other, especially when nude, I knew we were getting into something very special and exciting. Of course I was nervous too, but Ryan got me through it. I never once felt taken advantage of.

My first time with him is something I will never forget. I don't think it could have been any better…We realized we truly belonged together, and promised to always be together.

This is a loving couple. This is not an abusive situation, or one where one person is using another, or a passing event by two people who just needed a release. They are a “typical” loving couple living in what is a marriage in all but law.

Today we live in our own place. Our neighbors think we're a happily married couple. When Ryan comes home from work, we get dinner ready and enjoy it, sit together and talk, watch TV, cuddle, until he has to go to bed to rest up for work tomorrow. He's off on weekends so we have lots of fun then. We might go out, see friends or our parents, or just stay in and enjoy each other. We are more accepting of others into things that aren't mainstream, but we are monogamous and our sex, while enhanced by our bond and love for each other, is otherwise what most people would consider normal sex. I think anyone seeing us in a restaurant or shopping would see a happy couple.

And yet, there are people who, after seeing them as this couple in love and perhaps admiring them, would turn around and deny them that happiness if they knew that they were siblings.

Over time there were these thoughts I had that what we were doing was considered wrong. I mean, that's the whole reason we had to hide it from others, right? Anyway, I didn't let that stop us, but still it bothered me. That's when I started reaching out to find others like us. I read about incest and incest couples online, checked out various forums, and finally started chatting with other people. It was those chats that finally eased my mind. I found others like us, and it turned out there were a lot more than I thought I'd find….I felt good knowing there was so many, I didn't feel like we were alone anymore.

But what about their parents?

It was hard hiding our relationship from others, including our parents, but we managed it. Our parents do know about us now.

We knew we couldn't hide it from our parents forever. We didn't want to hide it, but we were nervous about talking about it with them. However, they figured out something was going on before we told them. Looking back, I'm not surprised. We spent lots of time together and they knew we weren't seeing other people on a serious level. Plus they could just tell there was something between us. When we said we wanted to share a place, saving money was our excuse, but they knew it was time to confront us. So we had a long talk. A lot was said, but luckily they didn't get angry. They finally said we could live the way we wanted if it was that important to us. It took time, but they have come to accept us.

It can be tough for parents to accept the sexuality and relationships of their children, no matter how old and independent their children are. Thankfully, Liz and Ryan’s parents showed acceptance. Nobody should have to hide their love if they aren’t cheating.

I think the fact that they're going to become grandparents helped them to accept us being together as a couple. We're expecting our first child, a daughter, and I couldn't be happier with my life. Having a child was a big decision for us, but I know we'll be great parents.

This is where some people cry foul. But many children have been born to couples like Liz and Ryan and are as healthy as any other child. Liz’s doctor says everything is fine with the baby and hasn’t detected problems.

Marriage seems to have some benefit to children, and it is an injustice that Liz and Ryan do not have the freedom to marry. It would benefit their child.

Of course I would marry my brother if I could. We want to spend our lives together, raise children together. And I know it’s not just us that wishes society would accept this kind of relationship. I've talked to many other people, and I know there are many incest couples that wish they didn't have to hide either. True love should never have to be hidden, it should be celebrated.

Agreed! So Liz has reached out to others because she wants to help them the way she was helped by others.

When I share my story, I always hope it inspires others to be like us, people who love family but haven't yet taken the big step. I would love if people contacted me about it or if they wanted help with their own situations.

So what is her general advice?

I would first tell someone who has such feelings for a sibling to think about it, really think things over. There is a lot to consider when trying to start a sexual relationship with a sibling. First off, your sibling may not share your feelings, and may even be upset by them. This could hurt your existing relationship with him/her. Second, if you and your sibling do start a relationship, the rest of the family may not approve. You will have to think about what to do if that happens. You may end up cut-off from the rest of the family. Third, there is the law to consider. In almost every state you could be punished for being in a sexual relationship with your sibling. Personally I think that is ridiculous, but it is something to be concerned about.

See this map.

If after thinking it over you decide to go through with it anyway, then what you should do is pretty much the same thing you would do when you are interested in anyone else. Try to spend time together, do things together, go out to dinner or the movies, things like that. You will have an advantage since you will already know much about your sibling so you will know what he/she likes and doesn't like. It may be hard to first overcome that feeling that you’re doing something wrong when things become sexual, but just relax and know that its ok. Consensual incest is not wrong, despite what others may say. Once things do become sexual you will find it is an incredible experience.

Sibling couples do have advantages and better relationships, in my opinion. Siblings typically know each other well, and care for each other deeply. They help each other, see each other through rough times, and are always there when needed. When the relationship becomes sexual, this means it is a closer and better relationship. The lovemaking is intense, very intense. There really is nothing like it. When the relationship goes on long enough, a very strong bond forms, linking the siblings together always.

Thank you, Liz, for sharing your story. Best wishes on a long and happy marriage and healthy children.

You can contact Liz Smith at blond_one89 [at] ymail [dot] com

If you want me to tell your story, dear reader, I can do so without using your name or e-mail address. Just write me at fullmarriageequality [at] yahoo [dot] com.

UPDATE March 23, 2011: Baby, Liz, and Ryan are all doing well.
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27 comments:

  1. i agree with you and Liz. if two people are that in love and want too get married or spend their lives together i say they should be allowed to do so. i've talked with Liz for almost a year or so now and I've come too call her a good friend. Her and Ryan are happy together and have a beautiful healthy daughter and should be allowed to live their lives anyway they want regardless of whether or not they are siblings. Just let them be happy and live in peace. I mean it's not your lives they are living so why judge them or try to criminalize them. Love is love and regardless of whether or not it offends you, if you don't like it then you don't have to associate with others who are in these types of relationships. I'd much rather get to know the person and see them for who they are as individuals rather than simply pass judgement on them because of their relationship as a couple. i support Liz and Ryan and all others who love each other and want to be together.

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  2. Anon, thanks for reading and commenting, and vouching for Liz and Ryan. I am so glad that they and their dughter are doing well. Please feel free to leave more feedback.

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  3. This is actually very sweet. I once thought that incest was wrong, but that was when I was younger and society's influence had a big hold over me. Now that I am really interested in social issues and justice, I really accept and understand a lot more "uncommon" practices than most people can even fathom to think about.

    I feel deeply for incest couples that have to hide their relationship, that can't be easy at all and I'm sure would be very nerve wracking. There is no reason why two consenting people cannot be together. It isn't for others to say, yet because society sees it as "wrong", others feel like it's their place to make someone's life hell about it.

    Reminds me a lot of homosexual marriages, how now they are getting more and more of their rights, yet a few decades ago they were outcasts and, back even farther, thrown in jail because of their homosexuality. Now it's unbelievable how many people are admitting that they are bi, les, or gay. Now that more people are accepting it, everyone is bringing forth the truth that they really do feel about themselves. I'm sure many years ago, many people felt that they were homosexual or attracted to the same sex in some way, yet refused to say anything out of fear.

    So the cycle continues, and we have to keep pushing for these misunderstood groups to gain their rights...It's never an easy battle though. And I know, even though I'm not in an incestuous relationship, that I'm with them all the way and I will fight with them :)

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  4. Thanks, Anonymous! Thank you for your support and for your kind words.

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  5. If I have to be true, few months ago I didn't see sexual intercourses between relatives who grew up together as "normal" as GSA relationships because I didn't understand (and still today I don't understand) why the Westermarck Effect didn't work, but now I think that if the involved peolpe are fine... well, I couldn't care less about the causes.
    All the best to Liz and Ryan, I hope they stay devoted to each other for the rest of their lives.
    Greets from Italy.
    -Cornelius

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    1. And most people are heterosexual or heterosexual-leaning bisexuals. Their minority status doesn't invalidate the legitimacy of their emotions. At least you've come around.

      The Westermarck Effect isn't like the law of gravity. It's a series of social and neurological mechanisms, that work stronger in some people in some circumstances than others. This is actually something I want to study, but from what information there is, it seems to me that people in such relationships either have a weak neurological Westermarck Effect, or other factors in their life prevented it from kicking in.

      Part of the Westermarck Effect, I think, involves social psychology, not neurology. People who grow up together form mental associations at a time when both parties are mostly pre-sexual. Those associations carry over unless they're separated during puberty, so that there's sufficient difference between their mental model and the person they see that they feel this new older sibling is emotionally distinct.

      You also see two common threads in people's stories of falling in love with a 1st degree family member. One is very early and continuous sexual contact. Siblings who experiment regularly during their pre-sexual years into their sexual years never form non-sexual emotional images of their sibling, and so the psychological effect I talked about doesn't apply. Transitioning to lust and romance during puberty is a smooth transition for them. The other is a watershed moment. In people's personal stories, they'll report a sexualizing moment, a moment where they were forced to see a family member as a sexual being. This causes a sudden shift in their internal model of that person, overcoming the pre-sexual image they have of them.

      This is part of why I think the Westermarck Effect is mostly a psychological effect reinforced by certain variable biological drives: certain environmental factors can prevent it from kicking in, or suddenly override it. Even though there's plenty of empirical evidence for the Westermarck Effect, it's not yet clear how strong it is, and whether it's at all genetically encoded, which is why some are wary about identifying it as a real, fixed feature of human developmental psychology. If it were just an ingrained biological drive, it could still be overcome, like many other drives, and it's variability in the population would also make as much sense as the variability in sexual preferences.

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  6. this makes me sick!

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    1. Anonymous, the good news for you is that you don't have to do it if you don't want to.

      Now, would you want someone telling YOU that your love life (if you have one) makes them sick?

      Delete
  7. Dear Mr Pullman

    If you can send the underlying message to "Liz", that would be fantastic. Thank you in advance.

    Ahem...

    Dear "Liz",

    So happy to hear that you are doing so well. Best wishes to you, "Ryan" and your child.
    May you all live happily ever after, and hopefully there will be Full Marriage Equality soon.

    Greetings from us,
    John Mattens, Niels Griffen Doe, and some other Anti-Humans.

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  8. Hello everyone,

    This is Liz. For those who have left supportive messages for me and my brother, thank you so much! I am so glad to see such support, not only for us but for others like us in happy incest relationships.

    -Liz
    blond_one89@ymail.com

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  9. Is it really a good idea to reveal her identity, considering the legality of what they're doing, the possible repercussions and the fact that a single google search with quotes of her full name can lead up to this site?

    That aside, I feel happy for them, they actually both truly love each other, which I can't say for most married couples I've come to know.

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    1. The names are very common names. This interview has been up for a while, and Liz still stays in contact.

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  10. I am envious of sibling couples like Liz and Ryan who have successfully managed to create a life together. Far too many other brother/sister couples have been driven apart, either by the fear of being caught and punished, or just the likelihood of condemnation of friends and family. Even more still live a double life, perhaps even are married to others, and meet secretly for a few hours together. Gays and lesbians lived like this in the past, and are slowly gaining acceptance. Oddly enough, though, although they see their own sexual lives as "normal," the LGBT community often denigrate incestuous couples as "sick" and "perverted." I find that to be more than just a little ironic. It is rare to encounter a practicing incestuous couple with enough courage to come out. Mostly, they are living secret lives, either masquerading as a non-sanguineous married couple, or living the lie of dating outside their real relationship and pretending to the outside world to simply be brother and sister who are very close.
    The fear of discovery and condemnation is so great that sibling couples who actually figured out ways to "date" one another in high school, who attended high-school proms and football games and church together as teenagers are often driven apart by other family members' suspicious questions, or even being caught together in compromising circumstances. That fear, while probably once based around parents or other siblings finding out about their relationship, morphs into fear of one's spouse, or one's children finding out, and over time the love takes a beating and begins to flicker. Some even declare the relationship to be "just a phase" or "just an ill-advised affair." Some separate deliberately, in the hopes of extinguishing that love. But it doesn't die easily, and can last a lifetime, even while separated by years and hundreds of miles.

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  11. it truly warms your heart when you read stories like these, a nonconsanguineous happy couple is a rare occurence these days, a sibling couple raising a family while staying under the radar is definitely unique. their story is an inspiration because despite all the difficulties facing a consanguineous relationship, they have overcome the problems and managed to create something most nonconsanguineous couple will never experience. with the laws the way they are they might think they have it bad, but they have it better than most of the world, something they deserve without question.
    best of wishes to them, their child and possible future children. its so horrible to think we live in a world where plenty would have no problems about destroying this hapiness because of their malicious and misplaced prejudice.

    peace out

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  12. It is true, love, commitment and honesty towards each other what makes a relation beautiful. I don't mind if my neighbors happens to be siblings.

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  13. Thats awesome! Good for you! I had a brief incestuous relationship with my sister back in 2001. It wasn't romantic, just sexual. She was engaged to a guy she ended up marrying because she became pregnant. But we strongly believe to this day that I am the father.

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  14. Its great to see 99% of the people here approving of love, instead of usual "kill them burn them on the stake" mentality... I wish there were more people like you, guys

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  15. I believe it's a sin not to appreciate love and at the end of the day it's LOVE. If two people are happy no one should ever stop them or criticize them.
    I see things from a perspective of not being able to have the one I loved my whole life (from a little kid and she is my cousin) and from what I found out a few years back when I decided that me and her should talk, that we did actually share the same feelings since childhood to this very day, but also decided to keep a distance due to parents and family.
    The worst part of this, especially if you both know of each others feelings, you know each other really well but you don't have each other is that without realising every other person next to you is compared to the one you love and since you've seen real love (that's what I call it when it has lasted 15-20 years) you expect something similar or nothing and what hurts the most is that you might both end up alone.
    Thus, good on them, they love each other and they decided to stick to each other!!!

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  16. This is Liz, from the article here. I just wanted to update my email, for anyone who wants to talk about my situation or their own situation.
    Contact me here: blond_one89@tutamail.com

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    1. Hey Liz, i just wonder your email id is correct "blond_one89@tutamail.com" because i never came across of "tutamail.com". Please update back dear.

      Delete
  17. good to see there are other brother sister couples out there. My sister and I kindled a love relationship a little late in life, we are both over 40. We'd had sex as teens and did live with each other briefly while we were in college... yet things didn't fall into place till a couple years ago. My sister misses that she never got pregnant by me. We'd discussed some of the genetic things... glad to see things are working out. I know I totally enjoyed making love to my sister in High School and that bonded us that when we were apart for many years... we both thought about our times. For me, I am so glad, my sister finally made the move to take up a deep passionate relationship with me.

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    1. Anonymous, congrats on your love! If you haven't done so already, please contact me privately at fullmarriageequality at yahoo dot com as I'd like to hear more about this.

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  18. people today can have just as good a chance of having children with birth defects as incest couples because of our society of chemicals. besides the horse is already out of the barn with all the sperm banks that were used with say 1 males sperm being used on up to hundreds of women and in the 1920's and 30's when children from New York orphanages that had no parents were spread around the midwest and a lot of those were related, I am sure at least some did end up together.

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  19. Liz and Ryan remind me a little of my brother and I. I wish them all the best

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  20. That is a beautiful story. I wish the best!
    I wish I had a wonderful sister to love like that.

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To prevent spam, comments will have to be approved, so your comment may not appear for several hours. Feedback is welcome, including disagreement. I only delete/reject/mark as spam: spam, vulgar or hateful attacks, repeated spouting of bigotry from the same person that does not add to the discussion, and the like. I will not reject comments based on disagreement, but if you don't think consenting adults should be free to love each other, then I do not consent to have you repeatedly spout hate on my blog without adding anything to the discourse.

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