In Florida Marrying Your First Cousin is Illegal, but Here’s What the Law Says


Of the twenty-four states in the union that forbid first-cousin marriages, Florida is one. This implies that you would be in violation of the law and would suffer legal repercussions if you wanted to marry your first cousin in Florida. However, why is this the case, and what do the ban’s consequences and exceptions mean? The purpose, background, and implications of Florida’s cousin marriage law will all be covered in this article.

Why Is It Forbidden In Florida To Marry A Cousin

In Florida, cousin marriage is prohibited primarily to avoid genetic abnormalities and illnesses that could result from inbreeding. “A man may not marry his mother, grandmother, daughter, granddaughter, sister, stepmother, stepdaughter, aunt, niece, or his stepgranddaughter,” states Florida Statute 741.22. First cousins are covered under this statute, including first cousins by marriage and double first cousins. It is also illegal for these relatives to live together or have sexual relations with one another; this is a crime.

This law is justified by the fact that close relatives share a greater number of genes than distant relatives, increasing the likelihood that their offspring would inherit recessive traits that could lead to health issues. Hemophilia, mental retardation, sickle cell anemia, and cystic fibrosis are a few of these issues. Compared to the general population’s 2-3% chance, first-cousin marriages are thought to carry a 4-7% risk of producing children with birth defects.

Some experts counter that genetic counseling and testing can assist couples in making educated decisions regarding reproduction and that the risk involved in cousin marriages is not great enough to warrant a complete prohibition. Additionally, they point out that there is no proof of common genetic problems in these populations and that cousin marriage is both legal and frequent in many regions of the world, including the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.

How Did Florida’s Ban On Cousin Marriage Come About

Although the exact origins of Florida’s cousin marriage statute are unclear, it appears that the eugenics movement of the late 19th and early 20th century had an impact on it. Eugenics was a pseudoscientific philosophy that promoted population control and the eradication of unwanted features and groupings to better the human race. Eugenic laws were enacted by several states, which prohibited or restricted marriages between members of specific racial or ethnic groups, religious groups, social classes, and families.

In 1832, Florida became one of the first states to pass legislation prohibiting cousin marriage. All marriages between white people and black people, or between white people and people of black descent up to the fourth generation inclusive, were expressly forbidden by the original statute. Additionally, it was against the law for white people to marry Native Americans or mulattoes (people of mixed race). Although cousin marriage was not specifically mentioned in the legislation, it was suggested that it was prohibited because cousins were thought to be within the fourth degree of consanguinity.

The ban on cousin marriage persisted despite numerous legal revisions over the years that eventually eliminated the racial limitations. The law as it stands today was passed in 1972 and continues to forbid unions of first cousins or other close relatives.

What Are The Ramifications And Exclusions Of Florida’s Restriction On Cousin Marriages

You should be informed of the consequences and some exceptions to Florida’s ban on cousin marriages. As an illustration:

Relationships that were lawfully entered into in a state or nation where cousin marriage is permitted are exempt from the legislation. This implies that if you get married to your first cousin outside of Florida and subsequently relocate there, your marriage will be accepted and you won’t face any legal repercussions. Nevertheless, if you move to a place where they are not recognized, you risk having your cousin’s weddings nullified or annulled.

As long as the couple is not connected by blood, the law does not apply to marriages between adopted cousins. This implies that you might lawfully get married in Florida if you and your first cousin, who were adopted by different families, later fell in love and desired to be married.

Marriages between first cousins who are 65 years of age or older and infertile are exempt from the legislation. This is because these couples are unlikely to become parents, and the primary goal of the law is to avoid genetic abnormalities in children. But Florida is not included in this exception; it only applies in Arizona and Illinois.

Cousin couples and their families may experience certain unfavorable social and psychological impacts as a result of the law. Stigma, prejudice, worry, dread, guilt, and solitude are a few of these impacts. Due to potential cultural and religious differences, these impacts might be more pronounced for immigrant and minority populations regarding cousin marriage.

Read More: People Are Leaving 7 Missouri Towns As Quickly As Possible

In Summary

Although it is against the law to marry your first cousin in Florida, there are some exceptions and ramifications to this rule that you should be aware of. The rule is predicated on the idea that cousin marriage raises a child’s risk of genetic illnesses and deformities, yet this risk is negligible and can be decreased with genetic testing and counseling. The eugenics movement, which attempted to regulate and enhance the human race by limiting reproduction, is thus connected to the historical context of the legislation.

For cousin couples and their families, the rule might have certain unfavorable implications, particularly for immigrant and minority populations who might experience more prejudice and stigma. As a result, opinions on the law vary; some may view it as unfair, outmoded, and obsolete, while others may consider it as an essential safeguard for morals and public health.

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