We are entering the time of year in Texas when a lot of weddings take place. For good reason, the temperature is just right, everything is starting to bloom and the time is just right for a new beginning.

When it comes to marriage, however, the running joke still to this day is that folks in the South love to marry their cousin. The jokes are getting old but it does bring up the question, can you legally marry your cousin in Texas? Well...kinda.

Marriage Laws

Who can marry who has been at the center of many debates for many years now. Believe it or not, it has actually been perfectly legal in all 50 states to marry your cousin until the last 30 years or so. For Texas, it was 1997 when laws were passed on the legality of marrying within a family. Here is what Texas law states:

Texas Family Law Code § 6.201

A marriage is void if one party to the marriage is related to the other as:

  • An ancestor or descendant, by blood or adoption
  • A brother or sister, of the whole or half blood or by adoption
  • A parent's brother or sister, of the whole or half blood or by adoption
  • A son or daughter of a brother or sister, of the whole or half blood or by adoption

So basically you can't marry a first cousin in the state of Texas. But what if there's an attraction between second, third, and so on, cousins? Well, in Texas, and across the entire United States, it is legal to marry.

Jokes Getting Old About the South

I mentioned above that the south has been, and still is, the target of marrying your cousin jokes. However, four other southern states have outlawed cousin marriage:

  • Arkansas
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • Oklahoma

And in about a third of the United States, it is perfectly legal to marry your cousin, many of those states are the ones that constantly joke about cousins marrying in the south. I guess it's true that if you joke about something a lot, you are probably one to do it.

  • Alaska
  • Alabama
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington D.C.

As I like to say, you do you, boo. I have no desire to look for love at my next family reunion, I've found that in the wonderful fiance I have now.

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EDIT: This was originally published July 17, 2023

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