Some people will do anything for love. In the case of Michael Lee and Angela Peang, they could both face jail time for their relationship.
Whether it's the illegal marriage, sexual relations, or first child on the way, any one of these offenses in Utah could put these first cousins behind bars.
Michael is from the Lee family, taking his father's family name, and Angela is from the Peang family. Angela's father is the older brother to Michael's mother.
Michael and Angela technically only met three times before they started to date.
Because Peang's father worked for the State Department, his family had to travel with him all over the world. When Peang was finally able to go to a family gathering at the age of seven, she met her first-cousin, Michael, and felt immediately connected to him.
The two second-graders were inseparable throughout the gathering and were later found in a dark closet together, slow-dancing, cuddling, and kissing.
"There was an instant connection between us. We were very much simpatico. Angie was smart, adventurous and curious. While other kids were into video games, she was interested in making little things or playing little games that were very much unique and different from those of other children."
"We were slow-dancing together and I was kind of worried we'd get caught and be in trouble. But it just felt right."
When they were discovered, clearly Lee felt their relationship was just as right as Peang did, because he professed to his mother, in front of Peang, that he would marry his crush someday.
"My aunt said, 'No, you can't marry Angie. But you can be good friends.'"
Lee and Peang's family probably thought that was the end of that, until the family met up again the following year, and Lee and Peang were reunited for a second time.
Peang said of the gathering:
"We were inseparable. The adults wouldn't say, 'Where is Michael?' They'd say, 'Where are Michael and Angie?' It felt like a soul connection — as if I could see myself reflected in him."
After seeing each other for a second time at the age of eight, the two spent a great deal of time apart. The two went off to college and married other people. Peang had two daughters, ages 16 and 17, and a son, age 12, with her husband before getting a divorce in 2010. Lee did not have any children with his wife and got a divorce in 2012.
During their marriages, Peang and Lee and their spouses got together once for dinner, and Lee shared in a Dr. Phil interview how he felt confused about his relationship even then.
Lee explained in the interview:
"One time, we went to visit each other. I brought my wife; she brought her ex-husband. And I just remember looking at this guy, and the first thought that came to my mind was, 'Who is this clown? What is he doing here? She's not with the right person.' And I'm looking at my ex-wife, and I'm like, 'What am I doing?'"
In October 2018, Peang had settled in Utah, where most of the Peang and Lee family still lived. Peang reunited with Lee via social media and was incredibly pleased to see he had settled in his own home, also in Utah.
When Peang was invited to their grandmother's Christmas party, involving mostly the Lee side of the family, Peang was a little hesitant but wanted to attend to see Michael again. She perceived the Lee family to be more reserved and conservative than the Peang side, but she hoped spending the evening with them would be worth it.
"I went simply to see Michael. I don't really mesh with the personalities of that side of the family because they're a lot more stubborn, conservative and abrasive. But, as soon as I set eyes on him again, I knew I'd done the right thing."
At the Christmas party, Peang and Lee hit it off right away. They talked all night and were again inseparable. By the end of the party, they were showing physical signs of affection, giving lingering hugs and Peang wrapping her arms around Lee's waist longer than a relative should.
Shortly after, the first-cousins started dating, and they did not hide their affection from Peang's children, giving them the opportunity to come to their own conclusions about the relationship.
"Instead of telling them, we let them observe what was going on by cuddling and holding hands. My younger girl was pretty upset and started crying — probably because she was going to have to adjust to a new person coming into the family — but now she is cool about our relationship."
The couple eventually took a short trip out to Colorado, where they could be legally married. When they returned to Utah, however, not only is their marriage not recognized, but they also cannot get caught having sexual relations with each other.
You can watch their full interivew with Dr. Phil here:
Woman Who Married Her First Cousin Says It 'Felt Right' youtu.be
Peang and Lee claimed that they did not attend to draw attention to their relationship, but they wanted to make change in Utah, so they could have a legitimate marriage. They launched a petition to have the laws changed in Utah, but so far, they need tens of thousands more signatures before the state will ever take the petition seriously.
In the meantime, the couple was contacted for an interview about their petition, which they accepted. As a result of that interview, the couple's story has been reported on everywhere, and they're now going to be featured in an episode of WeTV's "Extreme Love," putting their relationship even more in the spotlight.
To make matters more complicated, the couple is now expecting their first baby together, a son, which they could not be happier about. But because their child is direct proof that the couple has had sex illegally in the state of Utah, they mutually could face up to ten-thousand dollars in fines and five years of jail time each when the baby is born.
Needless to say, most of Twitter is pretty disgusted by the news of the couple.
It's unclear if the couple will be fined or will face jail time when their child is born. It's also unclear if anything more will come of their petition.
Their episode of "Extreme Love" will air on January 17 on WeTV.