First Cousins Can’t Deny Love, Get Married

ordinarypeopleAnd to think I only thought this happened in the south.

First cousins who were denied a marriage license by a Pennsylvania judge earlier this month were wed in a civil ceremony in Maryland, the couple said Monday. Tonight Show host Jay Leno and conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh both commented about the story after Blair County Judge Jolene Kopriva refused to marry Eleanor Amrhein, 46, and Donald W. Andrews Sr., 39, of Logan Township.

The couple petitioned the judge March 14, three days after a court clerk refused to marry them after learning they were first cousins. The couple’s mothers are sisters. But they hoped the judge would grant an exception to the Pennsylvania law, which was meant to prevent birth defects and other problems caused by marriage of close relatives, by telling the judge they didn’t plan to have children.

“Everybody thought I should be ashamed of it,” Amrhein said. “I am not.” Amrhein has no children; Andrews has three to other women. Andrews grew up in the South, but became close to Amrhein when he visited Pennsylvania for family gatherings when they were children.

“I started coming up here hanging out with mom’s side of the family,” Andrews told The Mirror of Altoona for Tuesday’s editions. “I didn’t seek her out. She didn’t seek me out. But all along, there was something that clicked.” Seven years ago, the cousins met up again and they’ve been together for several years now.

“You can’t control who you fall in love with,” Andrews said. About half of the states allow first cousins to marry, according to, a research site on state laws.

First Cousins Get Married in Maryland [AP]