Utah Married Couple That Are Cousins Are Facing Jail Time For Incest Felony

A married couple could end up behind bars for the birth of their first child. Why? Because they’re cousins.

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Ergo, the happy pair are facing up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine for simply having their baby boy, as it is illegal for relatives to have intercourse in the state.

In Utah, incest is a third-degree felony, instated in legislation due to the long-held fear of birth defects (as per Columbia University research, first cousins share 12.5% of DNA, and the chances of their child having a genetic disorder are 4-7%, as opposed to 3-4% for non-related couples).

Peang, who is currently five months pregnant, told the New York Post

We had to do our due diligence because everyone was saying to us: ‘No, don’t do that,’ and ‘It’s so risky and irresponsible.’ So we did genetic testing and found out it was OK for us to parent together. It was such a relief, now we are planning for a wonderful future together.

The couple, both 38, drove across state lines to Grand Junction, Colorado, last March so they could get married, as it would have been illegal to wed in Utah. Marriage between cousins is also legal in a number of other states, including New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and California (it’s also permitted in Europe and Canada).

Michael Lee and Angie Peang Cousins 2

The Michael and Angie Foundation/Facebook

Peang, who has three children from her first marriage, added: 

We got married, not because we’re religious, but to protect ourselves legally. We also wanted to legitimize our relationship to console members of our family, hoping it would put them at ease.

They first met at the age of seven, and were seen as being inseparable by the family. ‘The adults wouldn’t say: ‘Where is Michael?’ They’d say: ‘Where are Michael and Angie?’ It felt like a soul connection – as if I could see myself reflected in him,’ Peang said.

In the early 2010s, both got divorced from their ex-partners, and after being reunited at a Christmas party they began to date. While their parents have slowly accepted the notion, a small group of family members labelled them as ‘disgusting’ after they posted a snap of them kissing online.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays from our family to yours. Thank you everyone for being part of our lives.

Posted by The Michael and Angie Foundation on Monday, December 23, 2019

As for their relationship, Peang describes it as ‘supercharged’. ‘We have a strong attraction and it’s very mutually satisfying. You have the erotic side, the friendship side, the family side and the spiritual connection.’

The couple have since launched a petition looking to legalise marriage between cousins, with the page outlining: ‘We believe that the law is outdated and it needs to be changed so that we can socially legitimize our love.’ So far, it has more than 1,500 signatures.

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