SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah couple says they’re in love. They are also first cousins, making it illegal for them to marry in their home state.
The two tied the knot in Colorado instead, where it is legal but they’re also going to fight to change Utah laws.
The two said it started with a crush in second grade.
“It’s like second grade I remember I stopped her mother and said I’m going to marry Angie and she said ‘no I’m sorry you can’t but you can be friends,'” husband Michael Lee said.
Family vacations would bring them together but social norms would draw them apart again.
“This is something I’ve always felt like life was unfair,” Michael said. Like why did the person I want to be with the most and had the most natural feelings for, why did you have to be my cousin?”
They reunited after 10 years this winter. Both recently single and both ready to take the plunge.
“We’re like OK this is crazy but we’re adults now we’re single now we’re just going to go for it and you know who cares what our family thinks,” wife Angie Lee said.
They’re crossing two big hurdles to get married. The most obvious is genetics.
According to researchers at Columbia University, first cousins share 12.5 percent of their DNA.
First cousins who have children face a 4 to 7 percent chance of their child having a genetic disorder as opposed to a 3 to 4 percent chance for an average couple.
“The genetic consequences, the biological content consequences are very small,” Michael said. “It’s more, you know what people might think and say.”
The second major hurdle is the law. In Utah it is illegal for first cousins to get married unless they are 65, 55 if they can prove they are infertile so the two went to Colorado to tie the knot.
“As soon as we crossed over the state border, we’re not married anymore,” Michael said.
The two were gathering signatures and hope to change the law in Utah.
“No one I’ve ever been with will make me feel as perfect as she does and her being my cousin and some of the responses is a small price to pay,” Michael said. “I always loved you Angie. You know that.”