Jerry Lee Lewis: Wedding or Statutory Rape?

I just saw at where Jerry Lee Lewis was once married to his 13 year old cousin? How can this be legal? And, why didn’t the officiating State yell “statutory rape!”???

Check this link:

  • Jinx

Apparently there are no age limits on marriage in that state as long as parental permission is received. And cousin marriage is allowed in some states as well.

It wouldn’t be statutory rape, because that would only apply if they aren’t married to each other.

In other words, if she is your wife, it doesn’t matter if she is normally too young to have sex. By virtue of the fact that you are married to her, you can have sex.

The original intent of these laws was presumably to make children of unwed parents legitimate by offering a way for the parents to get married, back when this was a super-major-sized issue.

I’ve tried several times to come up with a suitable GQ comment on what this means today, but I can’t say it in any terms that wouldn’t be justified only in the Pit.

Getting married at such a young age used to be fairly common practice. So was a 13 year old getting married to a 20 something man. The famous poet Edgar Allan Poe got married to his 13 year old cousin when he was in his twenties.

Loretta Lynn married very young, I think she was under 16 when she was married.

But can they drink at their wedding reception if they are under 21?

Specifically, Loretta was 13 when she tied the knot, and 14 when she had her first child. Lynn became a grandmother at the age of 32.

I acn’t get enough of movies where Wynona Ryder is having “first timer” sex… (Great Balls of Fire, Mermaids…)

Jinx, did you read your link carefully? Did you notice that it said “second cousin?” Do you realize that that’s different from what most folks mean when they say (or hear) “cousin”?

Here we have “cousin” being thrown around perhaps a bit carelessly. As far as I know, marriage prohibitions are directed at first cousins. Various sources give Jerry Lee’s relation to Myra as first cousin once remove, first cousin twice removed, second cousin, or second cousin twice removed. It seems clear that they were not first cousins, so it was legal for them to marry.

I believe it also came to light after Jerry Lee married Myra that he’d somehow neglected to divorce his previous wife? Fun little family. (Jimmy Swaggart is in there somewhere…first cousin, I believe.)

Mickey Gilley is another member of the clan.

Jerry Lee Lewis married the daughter of his first cousin J.W. Brown. Thus, Myra Gale Brown was Jerry Lee’s first cousin, once removed. Not his first cousin, not his second cousin.

However, the marriage of first cousins is allowed in 20 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. It is permitted in six more states if the bride is past child-bearing age, and a seventh after genetic counselling.

A table showing the Age of Consent for Marriage in U.S. states.

Quoth MannyL:

In many states, a minor is allowed to drink alcohol served by a parent, guardian, or of-age spouse (with some of those states adding the restriction that it must also be in the home). So, since the reception is after the wedding, and it wouldn’t be too extraordinary for the newlyweds to be pouring each other’s drinks anyway, I don’t think it would be a problem.

At least, so far as I understand it, but I’m no lawyer.