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Q: Documented basis for a current law as written (WA State RCW 26.04.020) ( Answered,   0 Comments )
Subject: Documented basis for a current law as written (WA State RCW 26.04.020)
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: screenwriter6-ga
List Price: $25.00
Posted: 19 Jun 2006 13:00 PDT
Expires: 19 Jul 2006 13:00 PDT
Question ID: 739427
(Needed for a current screenplay in progress)
Washington State law RCW 26.04.020 Subsection (1)(b) prohibits
marriage between first cousins. It was originally adopted in 1866 by
the Washington Territory Legislation. It has remained unchanged since
except for modern rewording. I need to find the basis for the law as
written. In other words, WHY was the law adopted in its present form.
(Tips are a strong possiblity!)

Request for Question Clarification by denco-ga on 19 Jun 2006 14:14 PDT
Howdy screenwriter6-ga,

Outside finding a transcript of any legislative debates on the topic, the
following might be considered.

"Genetic Privacy, Discrimination, and Research in Washington State ..."

"With respect to strategies to safeguard an individual?s privacy and civil
rights in matters outside of the health care system or research arena, the
Task Force examined Washington?s law on domestic relations (RCW 26.04.020),
which prohibits marriage between persons closer in kin than second cousins.
GTF members presumed that the law was based at least in part on the
previously widely held belief that the probability of related individuals
bearing children with congenital defects due to genetic abnormalities was

Loking Forward, denco-ga - Google Answers Researcher

Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 19 Jun 2006 15:19 PDT

By the 1860's, it was well-documented that offsprings from first
cousins (whether married or not) had a very high rate of birth
defects.  Some states and other institions conducted formal
fact-findings, which led to a variety of laws banning marriages
between close cousins.

I did not find any records of this directly related to Washington State.  

But an 1858 report from the Superintendent of the Kentucky Institution
for the Deaf -- as reported in the newspapers of the day -- is fairly

"It is greatly to be regretted that the law forbidding the marriage of
first cousins did not pass the recent Legislature...From ten to twenty
percent of deaf mutes are the children of cousins."

I'll continue looking for a source from Washington state, but if none
are available, I'll post information from other states to answer your

Let me know if this poses any problems.


Subject: Re: Documented basis for a current law as written (WA State RCW 26.04.020)
Answered By: pafalafa-ga on 20 Jun 2006 14:24 PDT

There was a good deal written in the mid-1800's about "consanguinity"
-- the marriage of close relatives -- and what was seen as the
detrimental effects on the offspring of such marriages.

Most of the information covers the topic either generally, or is
specific to a particular area, usually in the context of a legislative
proposal that is being debated.

Although no articles turned up that were specific to the public debate
in Washington state, I did find this mention of the Washington law in
the proceedings of the National Conference of Charities in a
publication, "The social welfare forum". published in 1897:
[Title Page]

In particular, a section on "State Regulation of Marriage" can be seen here:;cc=genpub;xc=1;xg=1;q1=first%20cousins;q2=marriage;q3=law;op2=near;op3=near;rgn=full%20text;amt2=120;amt3=120;idno=ach8650.1897.001;didno=ACH8650.1897.001;view=image;seq=327;page=root;size=s;frm=frameset

and on the following page:;cc=genpub;xc=1;xg=1;q1=first%20cousins;q2=marriage;q3=law;op2=near;op3=near;rgn=full%20text;amt2=120;amt3=120;idno=ach8650.1897.001;didno=ACH8650.1897.001;view=image;seq=328;page=root;size=s;frm=frameset;

which discusses the "doctinre of consanguinity" and notes the
differences in the laws of several states, including Washington (next
to last paragraph on the page).


This article (which I referred to in my earlier comment, above) is
from 1858, and discusses a Kentucky report on the topic of marriage
between cousins:

I trust this information fully answers your question.  

However, please don't rate this answer until you have everything you
need.  If you would like any additional information, just post a
Request for Clarification to let me know how I can assist you further,
and I'm at your service.

All the best,


search strategy -- Searched Google and several historical databases
for combinations of the terms:

"first cousins"



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