Two Utah cousins are petitioning for the right to get wed in their home state after being forced to drive to Colorado to get married.
Michael and Angie Lee, 38, say they have been in love since they were children but were made to cross state lines to make their union official this week.
Angie’s dad is the oldest of 12 children, Michael’s mom is his younger sister.
The couple say their love began with a crush in second grade but they only decided to make things official after reuniting following 10 years apart. They now say they do not care what the rest of their family thinks.
Michael, 37, told ABC4: ‘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”.
‘This is something I’ve always felt very – life was unfair. Why did the person I want to be with the most and had the most attraction to and the most natural feelings for? Why did you have to be my cousin?
‘No one I’ve ever been with will make me feel as perfect as she does. Her being my cousin and some of the responses is a small price to pay. I’ve always loved you, Angie. You know that.
‘As soon as we crossed over the state border, we’re not married anymore.
‘We would like to have enough exposure to where we can go into a congressman or senator, someone with political clout and present a case sound enough to get the law changed.’
The couple – who have no children together – say the reaction to their relationship has been mixed.
They decided to make things official in January of this year, telling their friends and family.
Former exotic dancer Angie, who has three children from her previous marriage, added: ‘We said OK this is crazy but we’re adults now, we’re single now, we’re just going to go for it and who cares what our family thinks.’
Michael, who says he is a full time model, told DailyMail.com: ‘It has been a really mixed reaction. My dad is completely fine with it. My mother had some reservations but she is ok now. The rest of the family has been really mixed.
‘We told each other how we felt when we were younger and were even caught kissing a couple of times. But we kept it hidden and we just drifted apart. We both married other people and didn’t see one another for ten years.
‘Then it was only after we reconnected at our gran’s Christmas party last year that I could see she was looking at me in the same way and something was still there.’
The pair would only be allowed to get married in Utah when they are 65 years old or 55 years old if they can prove they are infertile.
First cousins share 12.5 percent of their DNA, research from Columbia University shows. It means their children face a up to a seven per cent chance of their child having a genetic disorder. For the average couple it is between three and four per cent.
Michael, who was married previously, added: ‘The genetic consequences, the biological consequences are very small. It’s more what people might think and say.
‘Children of our own is certainly not out of the question. The reaction from Angie’s children has been mixed. One thinks it is weird, another is happy for us.’
The couple have now started a petition to get the law in Utah regarding first cousins and marriage changed.
On it they write: ‘My first cousin and I have been in love with each other our whole lives but we are prohibited from marrying in the state of Utah where we live.
‘We believe that the law is outdated and it needs to be changed so that we can socially legitimize our love.’
In the U.S. 24 states do not allow marriages between first cousins, 19 allow and seven states allow some marriages between first cousins.