Is It Illegal to Marry Your Cousin in Wyoming? Here’s What the Law Says

The concept of marrying one’s cousin might seem taboo in some cultures, but it has a long and complex history around the world. In the United States, the legality of cousin marriages varies from state to state. Wyoming falls into a category where such marriages are legal, but let’s delve deeper into the specifics of this law.

Cousin Marriage Laws in the United States

Cousin marriage laws within the United States present a patchwork of regulations.

  • States Where First-Cousin Marriage is Prohibited: Approximately half of the states in the US have bans on first-cousin marriages. These states include Arkansas, Delaware, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, and West Virginia.
  • States with Restrictions: Some states allow first-cousin marriage under specific circumstances, such as if the couple is above a certain age, infertile, or undergoes genetic counseling.
  • States Where First-Cousin Marriage Is Legal: A number of states, including Wyoming, permit first-cousin marriages without any restrictions. These states are Alabama, Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Washington D.C., Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina (with an exception for double first-cousins), Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, and Virginia.

Reasons for Restrictions

The primary reason for laws restricting first-cousin marriages revolves around concerns about increased risks of birth defects in the offspring. Closely related individuals share more genetic similarities, making it more likely they both carry recessive genes for harmful disorders.

Wyoming’s Stance on Cousin Marriage

Wyoming is among the states where marrying your first cousin is perfectly legal. There are no restrictions or specific requirements placed upon first-cousin marriages in the state.

Historical and Cultural Context of Cousin Marriage

Throughout history, cousin marriages have been prevalent in various societies around the world. In the past, such unions were often arranged for reasons such as:

  • Keeping Property and Wealth within the Family: Marrying within the family helped consolidate resources and maintain social status.
  • Strengthening Alliances: Cousin marriages could solidify political and economic ties between families.
  • Cultural Norms: In some cultures, marrying a cousin was considered preferable or even the expectation.

However, changing societal views and scientific understanding of genetics have led to a decline in cousin marriages in many parts of the world.

Scientific Perspectives on Cousin Marriages

While cousin marriages do carry an increased risk of genetic disorders in offspring, the risk is often overstated. Here’s what science says:

  • Baseline Risk: Every couple has approximately a 3-4% chance of having a child with a birth defect.
  • Increased Risk for First Cousins: Studies suggest that the risk for first-cousin couples increases to approximately 5-6%.
  • Contextualizing Risk: While the risk doubles for first cousins, the overall risk remains relatively low.

Ethical Arguments For and Against Cousin Marriage

The debate surrounding cousin marriage often touches upon ethical considerations beyond genetic risks.

Arguments in Favor of Cousin Marriage

  • Individual Liberty: Proponents argue that adults should have the freedom to choose who they marry, regardless of familial relationships.
  • Cultural Acceptance: In some cultures and communities, cousin marriage is a long-standing tradition and carries no social stigma.
  • Informed Choice: With access to genetic counseling, couples can make informed decisions about their reproductive choices.

Arguments Against Cousin Marriage

  • Potential Harm to Offspring: Opponents emphasize the increased risk, even if relatively small, of passing on genetic disorders to children.
  • Societal Concerns: Some argue that normalizing cousin marriages could have broader societal implications, such as limiting genetic diversity in the population.
  • Moral Objections: For some individuals, the concept of marrying a close relative raises moral or religious concerns.

FAQS on Cousin Marriage in Wyoming

  1. Can I marry my second cousin in Wyoming?

Yes, you can marry your second cousin in Wyoming without any restrictions. Marriages between more distant relatives are naturally even less genetically risky.

  1. Are there any age restrictions for cousin marriages in Wyoming?

Wyoming’s marriage laws apply equally to cousin marriages. Individuals must be of legal age (generally 18) or have parental consent if underage. Specific information on marriage licenses and requirements can be found in cities like Cheyenne, Casper, and Laramie through county clerk offices or on state government websites.

  1. Do I need to get genetic counseling before marrying my cousin in Wyoming?

While not mandatory, genetic counseling is highly recommended for any couple considering marriage, especially if they are closely related. A genetic counselor can assess your specific family history and provide information about potential risks.

  1. Where can I get married to my cousin in Wyoming?

The procedures for getting married in Wyoming are the same for cousins as they are for any other couple. You’ll need to obtain a marriage license from a county clerk’s office in a Wyoming city like Jackson, Cody, or Gillette and arrange for a ceremony, which can be civil or religious.



This article provides general information on cousin marriage laws and should not be interpreted as legal advice. If you have specific questions or concerns, it’s always advisable to consult with an attorney or relevant legal professional.

Avatar photo
MBS Staff
Articles: 5610

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *