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States generally recognize marriages of first cousins married in a state where such marriages are legal."These prohibitions are thought to exist for reasons of genetics, which some say is based on a myth that has been debunked.There is reportedly only a very slightly higher likelihood of genetic defects in children who are born of a cousin couple.John Adams married his third cousin, Abigail Smith. Fitzgerald, former mayor of Boston and grandfather of John F.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt were fifth cousins, once removed (a chart showing their relationship is available at The risk of birth defects in children born to first cousins is increased from a baseline of 3-4 percent to 4-7 percent, according to the National Society of Genetic Counselors.With the genetic screening that exists today, that slightly higher risk rate could be mitigated.But the truth is that many of us are at least distant products of cousin marriages and many people we consider great minds married cousins in their time, including Johann Sebastian Bach, Edgar Allen Poe, and Charles Darwin.Talk to a Lawyer If you or someone you know has a legal question about a family matter, like whether cousins can marry in your state, talk to a lawyer.