Michael Lee and Angela Peang are expecting their first child in May and they’re overjoyed. They also happen to be first cousins, meaning they could a $10,000 fine and up to five years in prison when their baby is born since their relationship is illegal in their home state of Utah.
- The husband and wife aren’t shy about their love. The 38-year-olds from Eagle Mountain, Utah, are starring in a recent episode of the WE TV show Extreme Love, proving just how confident they are in their relationship. They seem to be into extreme PDA and don’t care what anyone thinks. In fact, they believe people should keep their opinions to themselves. “I feel the same about gay marriage, even though I’m not gay,” Peang told the New York Post.
- They’re sure their baby will be born healthy and happy. A 2018 Columbia University study estimated the chances of a baby born between first cousins having a genetic disorder to be between 4 and 7% compared to 3 to 4% for couples who aren’t related. It’s this increased likelihood of birth defects that forms the basis of Utah’s law against sex between first cousins. However, Lee and Peang say they’ve undergone genetic testing for the baby and it will be born totally healthy.
- They didn’t take the decision to start a family lightly. “We had to do our due diligence because everyone was saying to us, ‘No, don’t do that,’ and ‘It’s so risky and irresponsible,’” Peang, told The Post. “So we did genetic testing and found out it was OK for us to parent together.”
- Their relationship isn’t illegal everywhere… To be fair, it’s legal in New York, New Jersey, California, Connecticut, and California for first cousins to get married, and Peang and Lee actually went to Colorado last year to tie the knot. “We got married, not because we’re religious, but to protect ourselves legally,” Peang explained. “We also wanted to legitimize our relationship to console members of our family, hoping it would put them at ease.”
- They hit it off from the time they were kids. Peang and Lee didn’t meet until they were seven since Peang’s dad was in the military and often stationed with his family abroad. However, once the cousins met, they immediately bonded. “There was an instant connection between us. We were very much simpatico,” Lee recalled. “Angie was smart, adventurous and curious. While other kids were into video games, she was interested in making little things or playing little games that were very much unique and different from those of other children.” They kissed in a closet for the first time around then.
- They both married other people. Both Peang and Lee went to different colleges and married other partners, with Peang having three children with her now-ex-husband. After their respective marriages ended, they found each other on social media and it wasn’t long before they reunited at their grandmother’s Christmas party. They’ve been inseparable ever since.
- They hope marriage between cousins will be legalized in Utah soon. “Our strongest argument is that Utah is in the minority with this law. You’d think they’d want to be more mainstream and less strange, considering what they already do with polygamy,” says Peang. They started a petition they hoped to present to state government but it only got a little over 1,500 signatures.