Time to Ban First-Cousin Marriage: Md. Lawmaker

But it's OK for seniors or infertile people

Thursday, Feb 18, 2010  |  Updated 2:46 PM EDT
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Time to Ban First-Cousin Marriage: Md. Lawmaker

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A Maryland delegate says it's time for his state to ban marriages between first cousins, unless both people are over 65 or if one party is unable to reproduce.

Delegate Henry Heller, D-Montgomery County, says he wants to bring Maryland "into the enlightened world of other states such as
West Virginia and Arkansas'' that already prohibit unions of first cousins.

Heller, a retired special education administrator, says when first cousins marry they are "playing genetic roulette'' because of the increased odds of having a child with birth defects.

He says he has "no problem,'' however, with seniors or infertile people marrying a first cousin. Heller says if they want companionship, he's not against that.

There are 24 states that prohibit marriage between first-cousins.

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