Whenever the topic comes up, most people are surprised to learn that the United States is one of the few countries in the world where marrying your first cousin is considered taboo.

They will usually joke about states like Arkansas or Alabama, but it is legal here and much more common in other parts of the planet. Worldwide more than 10% of marriages are between first and second cousins. It gets a really shocked reaction here.


Even though here in New Jersey we may consider ourselves to be highly evolved and sophisticated, it is legal to marry your first cousin here. We are among 21 states that allow it. Some states allow it with certain stipulations, such as if the couple is over 50 or 65 years old and at least one of the persons cannot reproduce.

Is marrying your cousin risky for children?

Here is where science comes in. There is little or no risk to offspring if cousins marry, but if their offspring then intermarry within the same gene pool, problems will arise.


Some states like Maine offer genetic counseling to cousin couples before they tie the knot.

It's been known for decades now that the first go around is not where troubles could arise for children of these marriages.

Still, the stigma remains here in the United States, especially in sophisticated, well-educated places like New Jersey. People still make sixth-grade-type comments and snicker at the thought, but it happens here, LEGALLY, in the Great Garden State.

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Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Dennis Malloy only.

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