General Petition for Legislative Change
It is understood that signers of this petition are also signing the more specific petition for the State of Nevada.
We, the undersigned on this petition, would like to ask you to step forward and carefully consider a change in legislation pertaining to first cousin marriage. Legal impediments against such marriages achieve substantial interference with the fundamental right to marry, as a matter of substantive due process of law, under the 14th Amendment [Zablocki vs. Redhail, 434 U.S. 374 (1978)]. We believe that proponents of this law are unable to prove that such a law is necessary to further a compelling interest.
Respectfully, we submit the following:
1) According to the National Society for Genetic Counselors and to the Centre for Human Genetics, offspring of first cousins have only a 3% increased risk of inheriting genetic disabilities over the offspring of unrelated couples. Such an increase is proportionate with the risk to offspring of a woman who smokes, and of parents from certain ethnic origins. This increase is also far less than that of a woman over the age of 35, or of any parent who suffers from or carries one of may x-linked or dominant gene disorders. We believe that laws prohibiting marriage between cousins serve to prejudice the marital rights and freedoms of one group of individuals over another.
2) We submit that first-cousin marriage is lawful in nearly half of our states, and most in countries in Western Civilization. A law in any state which prohibits marriage between first cousins, by its mere existence (i.e. Ex Post Facto) make a lawful marriage unlawful simply because the person crossed a state border. When such conflicts exist, the law that unduly restricts freedom of association or movement across state borders is unenforceable under the federal constitution.
3) Finally, we submit that a far more just and reasonable alternative exists. This alternative includes, but is not limited to, providing educational materials regarding genetic risks to first cousin couples desiring a marriage license. Information pertaining to genetic counseling, and possibly vouchers for such counseling might also be made available to couples without insurance.
One out of every one thousand marriages is between first cousins, who face enormous prejudices in society that are based on misinformation. On behalf of individuals across America, we ask that you please consider that the cure for social degradation is education, not restrictions based upon unfounded popular opinion.
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