The laws date back hundreds of years to a time when the Catholic Church campaigned against cousin marriages, because in the Bible, in Leviticus, it says, "None of you shall approach to any that is near of kin." But a cousin isn't terribly "near." Just ask Brian and Caren Wagner.
Eventually, they fell in love and decided to marry.
This did not go over well with either of their parents.
I'd always thought marrying a blood relative as close as a cousin was immoral, and certainly risky if you plan to have kids. You can marry your cousin and have perfectly intelligent kids.
Conventional wisdom says only primitive people who live in isolated places marry cousins. Take Albert Einstein -- was he intelligent enough for you?
"There was a phone call from my mother, to Brian's father, of, 'What are we gonna do about this? But Brian's father, Dennis, knew their options were limited. Either we can say no, we don't want this to happen' -- which, you know it wasn't our choice if this is what they were going to do. I said, hey, we're not gonna lose you." The parents blessed the marriage. They'd heard stories about birth defects and worried that their kids would be stupid.
But they had kids anyway -- two sons -- each of whom went on to be at the top of his class in school. Novels like James Dickey's "Deliverance" and movies like "Brighton Beach Memoirs" reinforce the notion that cousin marriage will produce retarded children. ") But a study funded by the National Society of Genetic Counselors revealed that assumptions about cousin marriage are unfounded.