Two cousins who say they are in love with each other have created an online petition calling for the state of Utah to allow them to get legally married. "My first cousin and I have been in love with each other our whole lives but we are prohibited from marrying in the state of Utah where we live," Angela Peang writes in the petition. "We believe that the law is outdated and it needs to be changed so that we can socially legitimize our love."
The couple's goal is to get 1,000 signatures; as of Wednesday morning, about 75 have signed on. Peang told CBS News she's loved her cousin, Michael Lee, since she was in second grade. Peang's father is the oldest of 12 children; his sister, the fifth child in that family, is Lee's mother.
"We just always played a lot," Peang remembered of her childhood interactions with Lee. "We went into a closet and we were kissing and dancing together. It just felt really natural."
"He told my mom he was going to marry me," Peang said. Her mom told Michael they couldn't get married but they could be friends. Each time they saw each other at family functions the connection between them stayed strong. The cousins were caught kissing once by family members, Peang remembered. "We got in trouble," she said. "After that we were kind of kept apart."
The cousins each got married to other people and Peang had three children with her husband. But both couples eventually divorced. Angie and Michael hadn't seen each other in about 10 years when they both showed up to their grandmother's house last Christmas. They immediately reconnected.
"We felt a lot of love and missed each other over the years," Peang said. "We decided that we were just going to be open with our love. It was really scary to think about how our family would react because they are conservative Mormons... we thought we might be excluded."
She said they received mixed responses from their family members. Their parents feel the cousins' love may "threaten the family's identity," Peang said. She said her youngest child was OK with it, but her two older daughters felt it was "wrong" and "weird." "They started to come around eventually and when we told them we were getting married they were like, 'OK, we're cool [with it],'" Peang said.
The cousins are not legally allowed to get married in Utah, but the law is different in Colorado. Peang and Lee went to Grand Junction, Colorado, on Monday to tie the knot at the courthouse. Lee posted a celebratory message on Facebook. "I am officially a married man with a bright future," he wrote. "I am completely ecstatic about finally being married to my Angie."
Most do not allow marriage between first cousins, but Inside Edition reports six states do permit it under certain conditions. Some impose age limits or require proof of therapy between the couple. Utah is a state that allows marriage between first cousins only if both are over the age of 65.
The couple wants the law changed so their marriage is recognized in their home state. "We hope to spread awareness about our situation, and we hope with this awareness and education we can shift people's perspectives," Lee said. "It really isn't something they should be afraid of or against."
"Getting married in Colorado was one step and gathering the signatures is another one," she said.