Louisiana has historically placed restrictions on marriages between first cousins but has recently moved toward allowing certain cousin relationships. Here is an overview of Louisiana’s evolving legal landscape.

Past Prohibitions on Cousin Marriage

Prior to 1972, Louisiana law prohibited marriages between collateral relations including first cousins, first cousins once removed, and second cousins. This ban was rooted in social taboos and concerns about potential health risks.

Any marriage between the prohibited degrees of kinship, even if validly contracted in another state, was considered null and void under Louisiana law at the time. Cousin couples had no marriage rights.

Retroactive Validation of Some Marriages

However, in 1972 and again in 1981, the Louisiana legislature took steps to retroactively validate certain existing marriages between collateral cousins and second cousins affected by the prior prohibitions.

While Louisiana did not expressly begin allowing new cousin marriages, they granted legal recognition to those already established before the law changes.

Remaining Uncertainty in Law

The current Louisiana Civil Code does not outright prohibit or permit first cousin marriage. The existing statutes are somewhat ambiguous and lacking definitive clarification from courts.

Some attorneys argue first cousin marriage is implicitly allowed, while others contend it remains banned. This legal gray area leaves cousin couples unsure of their standing.

Compare Laws Nationwide

It’s important to note that states take a range of approaches to cousin marriage, from total bans to no restrictions. Even neighboring Texas prohibits the practice.

So Louisiana’s uncertain position contrasts with many states that expressly allow or prohibit first cousin marriage under the law.

Social Stigma Also Plays a Role

Regardless of Louisiana’s unclear statutes, social disapproval toward first cousin marriage remains widespread in the state. Even if legally permitted, cousins would likely face backlash.

Marriage validity is just one consideration for couples exploring cousin marriage anywhere. Social consequences can be equally significant.


The evolving legal landscape for first cousin marriage in Louisiana leaves couples in limbo. While some unions have been recognized retroactively, current laws are vague and public attitudes skeptical. Cousins considering marriage should tread cautiously given the uncertainty