less prejudice than relationships of closer relatives. Widely different laws from place to place and much ignorance and prejudice linger even as many places accept these relationships. In about half of US states, genetic first cousins (your parent's sibling's child is your first cousin) can legally marry. There are a few states with laws against consensual sex between first cousins, including North and South Dakota, Utah, Texas, Nevada, Kentucky, and Mississippi. The states that neither marry nor criminalize will generally allow first cousins to be together without marriage, as second-class citizens. There is much confusion and ignorance about these matters, so even people who are generally educated might not be aware that first cousins can legally marry, or might be unaware that people are actually thrown into prison for loving each other.
In the US, there is a false notion that marriages between first cousins in a Southern thing, but the varying state laws do not support that idea. Rather, these relationships exist in every region and in every class.
Cousins are often a child's first close friends. For some, cousins are actually or virtually raised as siblings; others grow up completely separated from their cousins, and may experience reunion-GSA as they meet or are reunited. Some cousins raised together, like some siblings raised together, might not experience the Westermarck Effect.
Childhood "playing house" or "playing doctor" might result in "show me yours and I'll show you mine" and might go no further than that, but in some cases, cousins experiment or satisfy curiosities or urges as teenagers. Some end up marrying and having lifelong, happy marriages.
Genetic first cousins share a set of grandparents. Theoretically, this means any children first cousins would have would have six great-grandparents instead of eight, but in practice, most people don't have meaningful interaction with more than one or two great-grandparents, if any, so chances are, the children won't be missing out on anything. Provided everyone gets along, it can be a big advantage for someone to have their niece become their daughter-in-law, or to have their aunt become their mother-in-law.
Those who perpetuate discrimination against these consanguineous relationships point to problems in some of the European monarchs, bit this is Discredited Argument #18. Many scientists and researchers support these relationships and there have been beneficial genetic results, while the risks are often overstated.
Everything from swinging or secret affairs has meant that people who've thought themselves to be cousins are actually half-siblings. An example would be John and Mary being married to each other, and Mary's sister Jane being married to Paul. John has a secret affair with Jane (his sister-in-law) and a child is conceived, but Paul is presumed to be the father and is on the child's birth certificate. Once grown, that child can, in many places, legally marry the grown child of John and Mary since it is presumed they are first cousins, but in actuality they are half-siblings. These things happen. The phenomenon of "double cousins" is also a thing.
That many famously accomplished people in history have married a cousin or been the child of cousins hasn't stopped the cruel and ignorant jokes that ridicule consanguinamorous lovers.
Cousin marriage has been going on for all of human history and is found in our ancient stories as well as our genealogies. In many places around the world, these marriages are still common.The patchwork of laws with varying degrees of discrimination are problematic as travel, studying abroad, foreign work stints, and migration become more common.
Some first cousins in heterosexual relationships might not see the need to legalize and protect same-sex marriages, and some LGBT people might not see the need to legalize and protect first cousin marriages or might avoid seeking solidarity where same-sex marriages are not yet legalized or are tenuous in their public support, but solidarity would be best. Facts and fairness are on the side of those who support the rights of all consenting adults to have their relationships.
Consenting adults may do things
with each other that might disgust a majority of other adults, but that disgust of others should not prevent the consenting
adults from having their sex or love lives. Each of us should stand up for the relationship rights of all consenting adults.
The disgusted person is free to not have such relationships, but should
recognize that other adults should be free to have orientations,
feelings, and relationships they may not understand, and free to express
their sexual desires with, and affections for, other consenting adults
in the ways they want.
Here are a few relationships involving cousins.
Have you ever been involved with a cousin? Are you now? You can always leave a comment below or write fullmarriageequality at protonmail dot com.