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Monday, June 29, 2015

Frequently Asked Question: Can Siblings Marry?

***This entry is being bumped up because, based on search traffic, there has been significantly increased interest in this question.***

The following is based on my understanding. I’m not at attorney and this should not be considered legal advice.

Can siblings marry?

I’m not aware of any government that will currently marry full-blood siblings or recognize a marriage of full-blood siblings; rather, if it was discovered by the authorities after an official marriage was formed that the spouses were, in fact, siblings, the marriage would be dissolved and considered invalid. If the spouses knew they were siblings when they married, they would be subject to prosecution. If they discovered the genetic relationship after getting married, they would have to file for an annulment or dissolution or risk prosecution.

Where sibling consanguinamory isn’t still banned by law, siblings can have a wedding ceremony and live the married life, although under discrimination, as their government will not recognize their marriage and they will not get treated equally.



Sweden will legally marry half siblings under certain circumstances. I’m not aware of any country that currently has more progressive laws or laws as progressive as Sweden.

Some siblings report that they have been able to get a marriage license in places like the US based on the ignorance of the authorities, such as the siblings being born in different states or countries and/or not having a shared parent listed on their birth certificates. However, if the laws of that location do not recognize sibling marriages as valid, or if consanguinamory is illegal in that jurisdiction, a marriage license is a potential piece of evidence that can be used in criminal prosecution, and that’s sad.

[UPDATE October 2014: An anti-equality lawyer who has practiced in at least two US states insists that there are at least a few states where same-gender siblings should, by the existing laws, be issued marriage licenses.]

If siblings want to get married, they should be free to marry. Inequality, based on prejudice, is counterproductive. All over the world, there are siblings living as spouses; there always has been, some with the knowledge and support of friends and family, some hiding the full nature of their relationship. Sooner or later, full marriage equality will be in place in more progressive places, allowing siblings to marry without discrimination or fear of prosecution. Let’s make it happen sooner rather than later.

This question may be asked many different ways. Can siblings get married? Can siblings marry? Can a brother and sister get married? Can a brother and brother get married? Can a sister and sister get married? Can a sister marry her brother? Can a brother marry his sister? Can a sister marry her sister? Can a brother marry his brother? Can you marry your sibling? Can you marry your brother? Can you marry your sister? Can two sisters marry? Can two brothers marry?
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48 comments:

  1. Sweden is not as progressive as it seems, according to Wikipedia:
    "Incest with a descendant or a full sibling is prohibited by law in Sweden. Half-siblings can marry, but require special approval by the government."

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  2. Unfortunate, but not unexpected. Until the day that things change for the better, those of us like me and my brother will continue living together happily as though we were a married couple, even if neither the government nor society officially recognizes such marriages.

    Liz Smith

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    1. You are disgusting. There is a reason that most non-domesticated vertebrates avoid incest. Try figuring it out.

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    2. Well, Anonymous, with arguments like yours, it is easy to see why we're winning.

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    3. Why not
      I feel that if they allow sodomy they the people should allow incest couples to wed.etc.
      Also parents marry their children.
      Didn't Lot have sex with his daughters
      what is unacceptable today in this world 2015 seriously people who believe in God's law heterosexuals against abortion all those people haters do not living in the free world and all the beliefs that are written in the New Testament seem to be obsolete to those who live by them


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    4. Thanks to the Supreme Court we CAN Mary iur siblings!!!! Cause there is NO definition of marriage.

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  3. Laws prohibiting something do nothing to prevent it. It is only the observance of said laws by people in the position to disregard them that actually prevents anything.

    There is a healthy and profitable market for marijuana and other drugs, despite numerous laws against their possession and usage accompanied by draconian penalties.

    A spousal relationship between two adults which is defined as a marriage...is a marriage. The state has nothing to do with it. Laws prohibiting such a relationship mean nothing.

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    1. Anonymous, you have good points, but there are two main issues here: 1. the possibility of prosecution, which can happen whether or not they marry in a private ceremony of course, and 2. general discrimination against them. They do not have the same rights as other couples, and that can matter in many ways.

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  4. I personally feel that if two people love each other then they should be allowed to marry even if they are siblings.The government should respect the feelings of people.This type of marriage should be legalized and the couples should be given same rights as other couples.

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    1. Do figure wildout outside the box of what these will do. So does that means if a kid with an early age wants to marry a doucebag. Should u let him considering her feelings.

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  5. There may be legal contracts that replicate the benefits of a civil union. Governments shouldn't have any business in the realm of "marriage" at all, beyond civil law agreements.


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    1. Anonymous, I understand the argument you are making. My position is that as long as something is being offered by the government, whether marriage, civil unions, domestic partnerships, etc., they should be available to all.

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  6. Are you so sure that same-sex sibling marriage is prohibited everywhere? Most US states list the relations one cannot marry, and they are usually explicitly female for men, and male for women. If a state adopts same-sex marriage, unless it actively changes its language, presumably same-sex siblings would be able to marry by default.

    New Zealand's law was expressed in the same way; whether the new law changed that, I don't know. Canada's federal law still refers to "brother AND sister", implying that neither brother-and-brother nor sister-and-sister are prohibited.

    Also, most US states define incest as "sexual intercourse", which sounds like coitus to me. If so, then same-sex incest is not only not illegal, it's not even physically possible! Wonder if anyone has ever used that in his defense in court...

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    1. I've actually seen a same-sex sibling couple talk about this. It might be a valid loophole, but trying it openly risks backlash and changing laws that would get them sent to jail. It's true, in some states the way "incest" laws are written don't prohibit same-sex relationships.

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  7. I find this so interesting. By brother and I have been together for 3 years now. we've had many problems because of course it is a difficult situation. we want to get married and have a family. we've told some people and all of them have been very supportive. Here's the thing, i always compare ourselves with the gay community, 20 years ago they couldn't be seen in public, they were discriminated until finaly society stared to accept them and i think the same thing is going to happen for us. I dont understand why people is against this... I mean, we're not hurting anyone, we are in love and love is a good thing. we are happy together and once again WE ARE NOT HURTING ANYONE. i think it's nasty the way society behaves, most people will not support a couple that loves each other, but they will support war? way to go!! If you're not dating your brother, you dont have to be nasty and bitchy about it, it's not your problem and we're not hurting you... get a real point of view and grow up a bit!

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    1. Anonymous, congratulations on you love. I agree with you. If you haven't done so already, I'd love to get an email message from you.

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    2. where can I email you?

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    3. Fullmarriageequality at yahoo dot com

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    4. I like reading about different subjects that I'm not familiar with, just to gain information. I'm not tryin' to be a jerk or anything, just tryin' to lighten the mood.
      But I would rather pull my eyeballs out and throw myself down some steps before I would ever think about marrying or anything like that with my brother. I truly love my bro, we have been together always. He's my rock and I'm his also. Sometimes i think that i would rather be with him than my husband. BUT I guess the difference is that I'm not in love with him. My brother is married also.

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    5. I am in the same position as you. My brother and I have been together for 5 years. Most people don't mind, but most people don't know that we are half siblings. All we want to do is get married and live our lives.

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  8. Shouldn't we all people that think the same, that EVERYONE that's in love should be able to marry if they want, -everyone, with no exception- do something? Like, go out to the streets, mobilize ourselves? I feel the NEED to do something about it, and not just have an open mind and talk naturally (because obviously it is something natural) about the topic with my family and friends but being politically active somehow, try and make a change, just like GLBT people did decades ago (and look were we are now, with people of the same sex -though not related- being able to marry in some states, adopt, have biological children even, and doing pretty well in surveys about the topic nationwide, even on those states where this marriages are banned).
    I think we need to go out, all, people that is in the situation, in love with a relative and supporters, everyone, we need to have a voice.

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  9. I believe incestuous marriages will be legalized. Now that gay marriage is legal, there is a community of people living in countries where incest is legal that are promoting just such a change. keep promoting it, let people know (this blog is a great start), promote it, and the change WILL happen.

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  10. A lot of people are saying that siblings marrying would not harm anyone, but the main reason they were outlawed to begin with was because the children of these siblings were having a lot of medical problems.

    Even though people think the government shouldn't be a part of marriage, in the long run governments have a vested interest in its future citizens, which is why the laws exist in the first place. If the medical problems are going to cost a lot of tax payers money to take care of them, then why shouldn't the government and the tax payers have a say in who you marry?

    With that said, if the relationship won't ever have offspring, same-sex relationships, then I don't see why the government should care one way or another what people do.

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    1. Anonymous, would you also restrict people with genetic diseases or genetic defects from marrying?

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    2. You make a good point, I know that certain states have done so in the past with certain disabilities especially with mental disabilities. With that said, I believe they may have been done away with. But once again it falls into the category of the fact that the government has a vested interest in future citizens as to why they have the laws.

      I'm not condoning it one way or the other. I'm just saying that there were reasons behind it and not just to be mean or to deny anyone their hearts desire. But like lots of things in life, just because you like it doesn't mean it is good for you.

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    3. Just because it is prohibited doesn't mean it doesn't happen. Incestuous couples may not be able to marry, but as long as they exist there is always a chance for pregnancy.

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    4. There have been studies that show there is less likelihood of a first generation offspring have defects than a woman over the age of 35 having a child. This is being discussed in Germany currently. There is no law, there is actually celebration of a woman over 40 having a child, in spite of the odds of birth defects for the child.

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  11. It's not disgusting. Inequality based on prejudice isn't right.

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  12. If siblings are not allowed to marry and procreate because of the possibility of birth defects, then all women over the age of forty should be restricted as well because of the increased risk of downs syndrome.

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  13. I'm so glad to read I'm not alone in this hope for equality. My brother and I had a relationship for almost 3 years. It wasn't planned, but just kind of happened when we started living together. We didn't know each other for 12 years of our life. We never grew up together. We remembered each other and knew that we were biologically siblings but after one night of talking about it we couldn't fully see us as such. I fell in love and so did he. We were always so careful about being safe but we suspect that my daughter...my first child...is his as well. It once again wasn't planned as much as I had been trying to become pregnant. I knew I had to be careful...but she was the best accident of my life. Unfortunately he has given up...and I have been married to a man I care about and am pregnant with my husband's and my second son (2 kids total between us) but its not the same love I feel for my brother. A sibling's love is so pure because its your sibling...you know they will always be there. We still deeply love each other and it kills me to watch him want a nontaboo relationship... Especially when just simply having a relationship is allowed in some states. My daughter is the only illegal part about our love but that's if she is his. We will never know for sure. My parents (not his) have custody of her now. I hope one day in my lifetime its ruled an injustice to keep love apart.

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    1. Anonymous, if you haven't done so already, please contact me a fullmarriageequality at yahoo dot com as I'd like to communicate with you more about this.

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    2. I also had a child with my half brother. We've been together 5 years. Our son wasn't planned but he is almost 4 now. He is smart and healthy. The only problem he ever had was a couple of ear infections and colds.

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  14. Me and my sister are in love with each other. We want to get married and start a family. I have done some research on this but don't know much about it. I have read all ur posts and would like some feedback if possible on how and were its legal to get married. She is my half sister we share the same dad but different moms. We also had a question about birth defects. What are the chances of them. And how many other familys in our situation have had kids without defects. Well we look forward to hearing ur comments

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    1. Anonymous, thank you for sharing that. Congratulations on your love. The jurisdictions that will knowingly marry half siblings are very few. Also, there's no guarantee ANYONE will have children who don't have significant problems.

      That's the bad news.

      The good news is, you can have a wedding ceremony if that is important to toy and there are certain legal agreements an attorney can help you with. Also, I personally know half siblings (and full siblings) who have healthy, happy children. Perhaps some genetic counseling will help?

      Please contact me privately at fullmarriageequality at yahoo dot com

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    2. Thank u. Its nice to know that there is people out there that don't frown upon us and that instead happy that we were able to find true love.

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    3. Keith Pullman What is the very few jurisdictions that will knowingly marry half sibilings? If you dont mind telling me..

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    4. Sweden will do it under certain circumstances. Check the "Maps, etc." tab at the top of this blog.

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  15. I think that one issue you do not address well is the issue of birth defects. While I believe that consenting adults should have the right to be with/marry one another in our society, I also believe that children should have the right to be born from a...I'm not sure what the right word would be...should we say "union"? Children should be protected under our laws from being created from a union which very, very significantly increases their odds of having birth defects. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/hal-herzog/the-problem-with-incest-e_b_1946901.html

    Therefore, people should be able to marry whom they wish, but not to reproduce with close relatives. It is logical and compassionate. Relatives should agree to get a surgery to prevent conception, or if they choose to use birth control, they should agree that they will have an abortion if conception occurs. They can use donors or adopt to have children if they wish.

    It seems to me that in your zeal to guarantee freedom for those who wish to marry, you have not considered the very real question of the potential suffering of their offspring.

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    1. Thanks for your thoughtful contribution. I'd like to note that we do not prevent strangers with known, serious genetic diseases from having sex, marrying, or having children. I cover your concerns extensively here: http://marriage-equality.blogspot.com/2011/06/consanguinamory-and-reproduction.html

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    2. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/germany/11119062/Incest-a-fundamental-right-German-committee-says.html

      Interesting article about what Germany is looking into.

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  16. I am currently in a situation and I am doing as much research as possible. Any updates.

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  17. First off, this is the first time I have even commented on anything. I often think about it, but never do. Why I decided to is because I want to give at least one person hope for their future. If this happens then time well spent.
    I am an only child. I did not have the privilege of having a sibling(s). I only came acrossed this thread after watching the flowers in the attic series. This made me curious and led me here. I had never given any thought to it before.
    I think people have more of an open mind today. Which is good for future change. Many people throughout history have been abused and persecuted to put it mildly. It is a shame what people have done to one another. Slowly people are seeing everyone has the right to be happy and treated as an equal. No matter what they believe, gender, look like, race or feel to name a few.
    I understand why people would initially want to put restrictions on procreation through a sibling relationship. There is a increase of child complications. Once you think a little about the whole picture, you realize, there is also these risk if not more from someone on drugs, like crack for example. What about little people with dwarfism? Should they not be aloud to raise a family because they might pass it to there children? Not too long ago we would of been having this conversation about African Americans or Native Americans. Where Caucasians thought thier race was superior throughout most of history and the offspring of other nationalities were inferior or an abomination. How many criminals breed more criminals? Should we sterilize people who are in prison then? We can go on and on for someone's "interpretation" of what is proper or correct. Who are we to judge anybody??
    In the middle ages royal families married other family members to keep the lines pure. You do not hear of these families run amuck with unhealthy children.
    I hope one day everyone will be free to love whom they love, without judgment. The world would be a much better place if people had more compassion and understanding even if they don't agree with someone's views. I wish everyone well in their endeavors to find love and happiness. Sometimes it's where you least expect it. Just know someone not in your situation cares.

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  18. Sorry if double posting here... I think my comment was lost.

    I made and fell into deep love with my half sibling at age 15. We were made for eachother and only love was between us. No ulterior motives, no agendas, no fears, only the sweet nectar of true love. When my mother found us out she divorced our shared father. We have parted ways for 5 years now. As we approach adulthood and financial independence I hope to take my lover again and share my life with her. Despite my consistency I can only wish Our country and culture did not oppress incest couples. I can say I feel the pain of oppression as women felt when wanting to vote, or when blacks wanted to be treated equal post slavery, or when gays could not marry. I can only imagine their joy when the law turned the other cheek in their favor. How I would rejoice if incest marriage were legalized. Even if my lover no longer loved me and my oppurtunity was forfeit... I would rejoice for those young siblings whom may marry their lover yet. She will always be my true love. God bless America, Land of the FREE, home of the BRAVE

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    1. Thanks for sharing that. Please feel free to contact me via email at fullmarriageequality at yahoo dot com

      I would like to be in contact with you,

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    2. I too am deeply in love with my sibling, my older half-brother. He is 5 years older than myself. We found each other later in life. I was 20 and never met my father or three siblings he had. Very long story short, we fell madly in love, we are truly Twin Flames! We live together, we have off and on for about three years now. He has three kids, I also have three kids of my own, after have three children, i decided to get "fixed". I was married, his children's mother is still around. No one knows, we keep it under raps, we do not want to lose our children. It sucks that we cannot be us, how we want. I have been searching all over for like a group, or forum or something, just to chat with others, I know there are others. I cannot find anything, is there anything?

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    3. Anonymous, congratulations on your love. To find others, read this: http://marriage-equality.blogspot.com/2013/08/discussing-consanguinamory.html Also, please write me at fullmarriageequality at yahoo dot com

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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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