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Marriages to Relatives

In Texas, a person is not supposed to marry a brother or sister, an ancestor or descendant, an aunt or

uncle, a niece or nephew, a first cousin, or a present or former step-child. This is accomplished by requiring

an application form for marriage license in which the applicants must swear that they are not related within

the prohibited degree of consanguinity or affinity.

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False swearing to this part of the application is a Class A

misdemeanor.

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However, falsity in this part of the application does not render the marriage void.

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Marriage

between first cousins is omitted from the list of void marriages contained in Family Code Section 6.201.

Thus, a marriage between first cousins is not supposed to occur in Texas, but such a marriage is not void.

However, the Texas Penal Code makes sexual relations between first cousins a third degree felony.

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The

constitutionality of these strictures is in doubt. Marriage between first cousins is permitted in Alabama, Alaska,

California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts,

New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, and

Virginia. Some states allow first cousins to marry only under certain circumstances: Arizona, if both are 65

or older, or one is unable to reproduce; in Illinois, if both are 50 or older, or one is unable to reproduce; in

Indiana, if both are at least 65; in Maine, if the couple obtains a physician’s certificate of genetic counseling;

in Utah, if both persons are 65 or older, or if both are 55 or older and one is unable to reproduce; Wisconsin,

if the woman is 55 or older, or one is unable to reproduce.

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Texas law does not prohibit recognition of

marriages between first cousins that were valid where contracted.

Under Age Marriage

In Texas, ordinarily a person must be 18

years of age or older, in order to marry.

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However, a person as young as 16 years

can marry with parental consent.

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And a

court can authorize a minor to enter into

a marriage.

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If persons divorcing in Texas

were married in a place that permitted

marriage at a younger age, will a Texas court

recognize the validity of that marriage?

Gender Identity Issues

Gender identity issues are making

their way into the cultural and legal

consciousness in America. The American

Psychiatric Association

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notes: “The area

of sex and gender is highly controversial

and has led to a proliferation of terms

whose meanings vary over time and within

and between disciplines.”

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An example is

the phrase “sexual preference” versus the

phrase “sexual orientation.” The former

connotes a subjective choice while the latter connotes a genetic or biological condition.

45

The American

Psychological Association has distinct definitions for sex,

46

gender,

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gender identity,

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gender expression,

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transgender,

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and sexual orientation.

51

The American Psychiatric Association defines

gender assignment

as “the initial assignment as male or

female. This occurs usually at birth, and, thereby, yields the ‘natal gender.’” “

Gender reassignment

denotes

an official (and usually legal) change of gender.”

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The DSM-5 uses the term “posttransition” when “[t]he

individual has transitioned to full-time living in the desired gender (with or without legalization of gender

16

Texas law does

not prohibit

recognition

of marriages

between

first cousins

that were

valid where

contracted.