The latest episode of the WETV reality show “Extreme Love,” which explores non-traditional romantic relationships throughout the country, will center on a married couple – Angie and Micahel – who are also first cousins.
“The husband and wife from Eagle Mountain, Utah, are first cousins,” reports Fox News. “Angie’s father happens to be the older brother of Michael’s mother.”
In the U.S., 25 states prohibit marriage between first cousins while another six allow them only in certain circumstances. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia allow the practice without conditions. In the state of Utah, first cousins can marry if the couple is 55 or older or cannot reproduce. Angie and Michael married in Colorado – where the practice is legal – and have been circulating an online petition that currently has just over 1,600 supporters.
Speaking with Fox News, the couple said they are “like everyone else” and would not categorize their marriage or love as “extreme.”
“We’re really like everyone else,” Michael told the outlet. “We’re not parading it around. I think people get the idea that we are running down the street, like you know, making out, screaming, ‘We’re cousins!’ We do the same thing that everyone else does. We put our pants on one leg at a time like everyone else. We’re really just a normal couple and… worldwide it’s quite common. I think it’s just in our culture that it’s taboo.”
“There’s a misconception that we are blatantly disregarding the law and just saying we don’t care about the law,” Angie said. “But we’ve done several things to show that we are working with the law. Driving to Colorado to get married was a way that we honored the law. Working with the senator. Talking, meeting with the senator. Petitioning, canvassing for signatures on our petition.”
“All the efforts that we’ve gone through to show that we do have respect for the law and we’re trying to change the law,” she continued. “We’re not just hiding out, doing our own thing. We’ve… done as much as we can within the law.”
The two met at age seven and Michael claims it was love at first sight, saying he has always wanted to be with her.
“I’ve always wanted to be with Angie,” said Michael. “Point blank, period. I don’t know if she ever knew that, but when I look at her, I’ve never been able to see that in any other woman in my life. I’ve had dreams about her since I can remember. I always had this weird feeling that there was no other woman that would ever make me feel like that. And it turns out I was right… For me, it was just natural.”
The pair also shared their first kiss at age seven when they snuck into a closet, and Michel soon told his mother that he would marry Angie.
“I even stopped her mother in the hallway one morning, like after breakfast,” Michael remembered. “I said, ‘I’m going to marry Angie.’ This is my aunt, her mother… She goes, ‘No, you can’t, but you can be friends.’ I just felt like… you don’t even know what you’re talking about. I’ve always felt that way about her.”
Though family members initially expressed anger over the arrangement, some have come around to accept them.
“With our extended family, it did part some controversy,” said Angie. “And a lot of the extended family just have chosen not to participate and not to get involved with our situation.”
To the critics of their relationship, Michael said he doesn’t feel he has anything to explain or apologize for.
“Are you ashamed of your marriage with your husband or wife?” Michael said. “Are you ashamed of your relationship? Should you go hide in the corner and say, ‘Well, we’re not cousins.’ That doesn’t change the fact that we’re together. I don’t feel like I should have to, or Angie and I should have to keep it some kind of a secret as if no one can know about it. Or lie about it. That’s the worst thing I want to do — is lie about it.”
If Angie and Michael were to have children, they would be 4 to 7% more likely to have a genetic condition. Angie, however, says her genetic prenatal testing gave some positive results. “He’s not a carrier for anything and I’m only a carrier for one thing, which means that our son isn’t going to have anything,” she said.