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These first cousins got married in Colorado. Now they want to force Utah to recognize their marriage.


The couple has launched a petition for changing the law in order to 'socially legitimize' their love

Image source: CNN video screenshot

First cousins Michael and Angie Lee got married Monday in Colorado, but the law in their home state of Utah doesn't recognize their union.

The Lees have now launched a petition seeking to change that, in order to have their marriage recognized as "socially" legitimate where they live.

What are the details?

In an online plea seeking 1,000 supporters to "allow first cousins to marry in Utah," Angela Lee says the state's "law is outdated and it needs to be changed so that [she and her husband] can socially legitimize [their] love."

CNN reported that Utah prohibits first cousins from marrying unless both are at least 65 years old, or 55 and infertile. The major concern is the potential for birth defects in offspring who come from closely related parents.

Research from Columbia University suggests children born to unrelated couples have a 3 to 4 percent change of being born with a genetic disorder, according to CNN. In babies born to first cousins, there is a 4 to 7 percent chance.

"The genetic consequences, the biological content consequences are very small," Michael Lee told the outlet. "It's more, 'You know what people might think and say.'"

Michael and Angie insist they've been in love with each other their entire lives. The two reconnected at their grandmother's house last Christmas after not seeing each other for a decade. They decided to openly pursue their romance in spite of their fears of rejection from others. Angie's father is the oldest of 12 children; his sister, the fifth child in that family, is Michael's mother.

The couple hopes their story will not only prompt a change in Utah's laws, but will help end the social stigma against first cousins marrying. Angie told CBS News both her and Michael's parents were concerned that their relationship might "threaten the family's identity." But Angie's three children from a previous marriage have come around to accepting it.

Anything else?

State laws vary greatly regarding the marriage of cousins. Most prohibit such unions, according to CBS.

Some, like Utah, make allowances for age; others offer exceptions for first cousins who are once-removed (separated by a generation). Several states, like Colorado, place no restrictions on them at all, according to Inside Edition.

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