Consanguinity – Life in Prison for Consensual Love

In eight states, not only can you can get life in prison for consensual incest (consanguinamory), that sentence is stronger than that given to murders and rapists.

Researching Love’s Forbidden Flower opened my eyes to forms of discrimination I had never considered. I have always known that people discriminate for various reasons, many of which are nonsensical, but I was not aware of how harshly the law discriminates against couples whom society deems shouldn’t be together. It did not take long before I came to see that if Lily and Donovan’s consensual incest ever went public, both lovers could serve sentences more severe than those of some murderers or violent offenders.

Don’t believe me?

Before we continue, let’s make one thing perfectly clear: non-consensual sex is rape. Rape should always be treated as the horrible and abusive crime it is.

There are basically two forms of incest: consensual and non-consensual. Each of those can be: sibling, parent/child, cousin, aunt or uncle/niece or nephew. In some states, all of these relationships are considered crimes. In most other states, only sibling and parent/child relations are criminal. Because the law does not make exceptions in the cases of adult consensual incestuous relationships, people incorrectly associate incest with abuse and rape. Abuse and rape are crimes and should always be treated as such.

Many agree that adult consensual love should never be a crime. In a broad sense, the law agrees; however, when adult consensual love happens between those whose birth circumstances cause them to be related, the law sees things differently. This is why those in consanguinamorous (incestuous) relationships consider the word incest ugly.

Per Wikipedia, if you are convicted of incest in the following states (be it a violent act of rape or a sweet love affair between consenting adults), the sentence is life in prison. Here are sentences for first-degree murder in those same states:

Alabama – Death penalty, life without parole, or life with parole after 25 years in prison.
Florida – Death penalty or life without parole.
Georgia – Life in prison, in some cases parole after 25 years in prison.
Louisiana – Mandatory sentencing of 15-50 years in prison.
Mississippi – Death, life without parole, or life with parole after 25 years in prison.
North Carolina – Death or life without parole.
South Carolina – Death, life without parole, or not less than 30 years in prison.
Tennessee – Death, life without parole, or life with parole eligibility after 35 years in prison.

Did anyone else notice that in six of these eight states it is possible to serve a longer sentence for adult consensual sex than for first-degree murder?

Does life in prison for consenting adults really make sense?

In Alabama, the highest penalty for rape is either life or 10-99 years in prison. Theoretically, a rapist could serve only 10 years for a violent, non-consensual act that will leave someone scarred for life, but lovers who share genes can get life in prison for a consensual act. The same laws exist in Georgia. In South Carolina, rape carries a maximum sentence of 30 years. In Tennessee, rape carries a 15-25 years sentence. Again, these figures are for the most brutal cases of rape that do not result in death, and these sentences are imposed in states that convict those in consensual relationships for life.

I can speculate what you are thinking: the laws exist because of the birth defect rate for consanguineous couples. Let me flat out state that I don’t take the thought of birth defects lightly; however, I can’t begin to tell you how many people I have spoken to that believe a child born from genetically related parents is guaranteed to have serious birth defects. The facts show this is simply not true.

Children of unrelated parents have a 3% to 4% risk of having serious birth defects. The offspring of first cousins have only a slightly higher risk of about 4% to 7%. The risk for the closest relation possible, parent/child, is about 9%. The odds that sibling parents will produce a child with birth defects are 7% to 9%. (Source:

While a healthy woman in childbearing years has a 3% chance of delivering a child with a birth defect, after the age of 40, this risk rises to between 6% and 8%.

So we are looking at a birth defect rate of 7 to 9% for the product of healthy siblings in childbearing years and 6 to 8% for women over forty. Late-in-life parenting has been on the rise, and no one is trying to stop it. So, if we are going to use the birth defect argument as a reason for consanguinamorous couples to spend their lives behind bars, should we not also lock up every woman over 40 who tries to conceive, along with any man with whom she has sex?

Since the birth defect concern is based on genetics, let’s consider this: if there is no history of genetic abnormality in the family, the chance of a child produced by a consanguinamorous couple having birth defects is low. However, there are some genetic diseases, such as Multiple Sclerosis, that will be passed down to a child if both parents have it, even if they are not genetically related. If we are going to use the birth defect argument as a reason for discrimination, then why is there no law stating people who carry genetic diseases will serve life in jail if they have consensual sexual relations?

Rapists and murders belong in jail for their crimes while consensual lovers do not.

For more resources on consanguinamory, please visit the Friends of Lily section on this site.