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Kissing Cousins Bill Allows Marriage By First Cousins

Two firstcousins in Seattle want to marry, and Sen. Dwight Pelz said Thursday he will seek a “profamily” change in the law so they can.

“They’re living together now, and it seems to me that this would be a pro-family thing to do, to let them get married,” the Seattle Democrat said of the couple, whom he declined to identify.

A nearly identical bill failed in 1990 after hearings that included an impassioned plea from a Tacoma couple who also were first-cousins who wanted to marry. The earlier measure was sponsored by the late Sen. Slim Rasmussen of Tacoma.

The 1990 bill lost steam after the couple broke up and Rasmussen dropped the idea.

Pelz’ bill, SB5541, would specify that the female in the relationship must be at least 50.

“That’s to get us around the gene pool thing of birth defects caused by inbreeding,” he said.

The measure would allow firstcousins to marry at any age if they could prove one was sterile.

Legislative research on the earlier bill showed that at least 11 states allow marriage between first cousins, Pelz observed.

He said he hadn’t discussed his proposal with colleagues and did not know if it stood a chance.

But he said he “ran it by one of my religious colleagues, and he didn’t have a problem with it because he’d rather see people married than living together.”

“My colleague’s first question was, ‘Are they same sex or opposite?’ He was pleased to know this applies to opposite sexes only,” Pelz said.

He said the couple was “a little bashful” and probably won’t want to testify for the measure.