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Published On: Tue, Oct 28th, 2014

New York court: Vu Truong’s marriage to his neice, Huyen Nguyen is lawful

A ruling in the New York Court of Appeals reversed a marriage annullment between an uncle and his “half-niece” as Tuesday’s decision made their union lawful.

Vietnamese citizen Huyen Nguyen’s marriage in 2000 to her mother’s half-brother, U.S. citizen Vu Truong, was void in 2007 and U.S. immigration officials moved quickly to deport her. Nguyen was aged 19 and Truong was 24 when they got married.

Photo/Nodar Kherkheulidze via wikimedia commons

Photo/Nodar Kherkheulidze via wikimedia commons

The U.S. Justice Department claimed an 1893 state law that bars marriages between “a brother and sister of either the whole or the half blood,” as well as “uncles and nieces or aunts and nephews,” applied to Nguyen and Truong.

Nguyen’s attorneys countered that the law was designed to ensure stability within families and reduce the risks associated with close relatives having children. Neither of those concerns applied in Nguyen’s case, they said.

In a 6-0 decision siding with Nguyen, Judge Robert Smith wrote, “First cousins are allowed to marry in New York, and I conclude that it was not the Legislature’s purpose to avert the similar, relatively small, genetic risk inherent in relationships like this one.”

The decision by the court in Albany, which allows Nguyen to remain in the United States, went against a 1921 ruling in which the court said a man’s marriage to his half-brother’s daughter was void.

Kathryn Audley had sought a divorce from her father’s half-brother, whom she accused of adultery, but the court said it was unnecessary because the marriage was unlawful.

Nguyen’s lawyer, Michael Marszalkowski, said he was pleased with Tuesday’s ruling.

“This couple every day has worried about whether they have a future together,” he said.

The U.S. Justice Department declined to comment.

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About the Author

- Roxanne "Butter" Bracco began with the Dispatch as Pittsburgh Correspondent, but will be providing reports and insights from Washington DC, Maryland and the surrounding region. Contact Roxie aka "Butter" at [email protected] ATTN: Roxie or Butter Bracco

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  1. Ebola Jenkins says:

    Who finds these people to put on our courts?!?…

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