"There's not a force great enough in this universe to keep me apart from Angie," Michael vowed. Sure enough, despite facing fines and federal jail time, he and his first cousin wouldn't have it any other way. Here's their story.
Love in the Oddest Of Places
Michael and Angie have been living out their very own fairytale ever since crossing paths in 2nd grade. "I've had dreams about her [for as long as] I can remember," Michael gushed. The only catch? Their parents are siblings.
For Michael, though, "It was just natural," he assured of how the two first came to be. But to the naked eye? Nothing about the couple's story is ordinary. From their secret first kiss to starting a family of their own, hang on while we rehash the relatives' unbelievable journey to finding love.
For starters, Angela Peang was practically destined to take the road less traveled. In fact, she's always been doing things differently. Growing up as the daughter of a State Department employee, Angie's younger years brought her all around the world.
From Pakistan to Japan, to everywhere in between, the young girl was always on the move. Little did Angie know, there was a special somebody waiting for her halfway across the globe. This brings us to the other half of our story... Any guess who we're referring to?
Meet Michael Lee, otherwise known as Angela's first cousin. While Angie spent her younger years living overseas, the Utah native spent his in Salt Lake City. Perhaps that's why the name "Angela Peang" didn't quite mean much to the young boy growing up.
Safe to say, though, that wouldn't last long. But we're not there just yet. And in the years that followed, the curious child couldn't help but wonder about his long-lost cousin. What did she look like? Did she know about him? And perhaps most importantly: Would he ever meet her? If only he knew...
The Moment They Finally Met
But by the time 1989 came rolling around, all of that was about to change. As his family hopped on a plane for a quick trip to Arlington, Virginia, they never could've imagined the madness that'd ensue: To Mr. and Mrs. Lee, it was a simple family reunion - 7 years overdue...
But to their 7-year-old son? From the moment Michael first laid eyes on his 7-year-old cousin, Angie, nothing would ever be the same. And as he scurried up those front steps and stepped foot inside the Peang residence, he was about to find that out. What happened?
Love at First Sight
It was love at first sight, a feeling he simply couldn't put into words. "Angie was smart, adventurous, and curious," Michael confessed of the charming young girl suddenly standing before him. And it was at that very moment that he knew his heart was hers.
"When I looked at her, I've never been able to see that in any other woman in my life," Lee explained of his instant infatuation. Sure, Angie was his estranged cousin. But the truth was that she was so much more than that. And Michael was going to spend almost half of his life making sure of it.
Their First Kiss
But how did his sudden new crush feel about everything? Did Angie also share Michael's unexpected attraction? Or perhaps was her cousin just that: Her cousin? Sure enough, as Michael and Angie scurried off on an impromptu house tour, he was about to have his answers.
As they made their way through the Peang house, suddenly they found themselves in a dimly lit closet: "We were slow-dancing together, and I was kind of worried we'd get caught and be in trouble," Angie confessed. Only the next thing they knew... the two began locking lips. "It just felt right."
They Became Inseparable
Unfortunately, their time together didn't last long. And the once-estranged cousins spent the next couple of years apart. But while distance clearly wasn't on their side, none of that even mattered. The truth was that they couldn't stop thinking about one another. And by the time they reunited again at about 10 years old?
"We were inseparable," Peang recalled. "It felt like a soul connection - as if I could see myself reflected in him." They became attached at the hip, something their family slowly picked up on. But while the cousins couldn't deny the excitement they were suddenly met with, not everybody felt the same.
Michael Said He Wanted To Marry Angie
"I stopped her mother in the hallway one morning, like after breakfast," Michael revealed of the moment he was met with a brutal wake-up call. "I said, 'I'm going to marry Angie.'" Only much to his surprise, those words hit Mrs. Peang like a ton of bricks.
How did she take the news? "No. You can't. But you can be friends," Lee recalled of her crushing words. For the young boy, it seemed like all the odds were against him. And the truth was, that they were. Perhaps that's why it's no surprise what came next.
Their Parents Tried To Keep Them Apart
"From that point on, we kind of felt like we were kept apart," Angie explained. For the smitten school children, it was a bitter pill to swallow. "It felt unfair, a little like Romeo and Juliet," she confessed. The only difference? "[Instead of 2 different] warring families, it was the same one."
Whatever the case may have been, as the years continued to pile on, so did the distance brewing between them. And for Michael and Angela, that intimate moment they'd once shared at her home was beginning to fade into a distant memory. Were their parents right, after all?
They Led Separate Lives
As the years continued to pass, it certainly seemed that way. To the naked eye, both parties had seemed to carry on with their lives: Angie got married to a different man, and the two welcomed a family of their own - 2 daughters and 1 son. As for Michael? While he also wound up married, his reality looked very different.
Despite vowing his heart to his new wife, the truth was that it belonged to another. "I'd go online… check out her profile, and I would just stare," he confessed of keeping tabs on his cousin. And it stung, badly. "Looking at your true love, the woman you're supposed to be with, knowing… she's not with the right person."
They Became Single
As fate would have it, Michael's word's finally seemed to ring true years later. In 2010, after almost a decade together, Angela and her husband's marriage came to an abrupt end. "We both agreed to separate," she explained. But she wasn't the only one suddenly back on the market.
As hard as Michael tried to carry on with his life, the truth was that he simply couldn't: "Even during the several years I was married, I always pined for Angie," he confessed. And sure enough, by 2012, those emotions proved to be too much: He and his wife, too, filed for divorce.
Angela Moved to Utah
But while Michael was busy grappling with his divorce, Angie was just as lost. Where was she supposed to go from here? She didn't know what to think anymore. What she did know, though, was that she was ready for a fresh start, somewhere completely new.
She packed up her bags and headed out towards the airport. Only her latest adventure wasn't going to be taking her into international waters. She wasn't going to be jet-setting across Asia, nor the Greater Middle East like she'd done decades earlier. This time around? Angela Peang was headed to Utah.
She Discovered Michael Was Still Living There
Angela hadn't planned on finding love when she headed out West towards Michael's hometown. In fact, as she put it? "I simply swore off men." She had given up on love, and it'd be a long time before she ever let anyone back into her heart. Little did she know, fate had other plans.
What happened? To put it simply: "Circumstances aligned," Angie explained of the moment she discovered her cousin was still living in Utah. Was it a sign from the universe? It certainly seemed that way. Only as Angie raced to her keyboard to reach out to her former flame, she had no idea that madness that'd eventually ensue.
She Messaged Him
It all happened so fast. After reaching out to Michael on his birthday come October 2018, Angie's seemingly innocent wishes led her down a slippery slope. And it wasn't long before the lines between friendship and romance were suddenly blurred, again.
From the looks of it? The formerly estranged cousins were making up for lost time, and then some. "[We were] using love emojis, heart emojis - there was a lot of innuendos there," the two revealed as they continued talking online all the time. But would they ever come face to face again?
She Hatched a Plan To See Him Again
Sure enough, by Christmas time, a plan was finally put into play - at least where Angie was concerned. No, she didn't "really mesh with the personalities" of her extended family. But after finding out that Michael would be attending their grandparents' annual holiday party? She knew exactly what she was going to do.
After endless years spent apart, Angie wasn't going to let anything get in her and Michael's way. "I was not going to miss my opportunity to see my dear cousin... for the first time in about a decade." Only as she arrived at the party and began scanning the room, her heart suddenly stopped.
They Picked up Where They Left Off
Sitting in the back of the room, alongside the dining table, was her cousin - that same familiar smile plastered across his face. "As soon as I set eyes on him again, I knew I'd done the right thing," Angie confessed. How did she see it? "Fireworks... like we picked up where we left off."
As Michael and Angie got to talking, it was as if nothing had ever changed. But where were they supposed to even go from here? Sure enough, as Angela got home that night, her mind was already ten steps ahead: "Could one legally marry their first cousin in Utah?" she googled.
They Became Official
While exchanging "I Do"s wasn't something they'd ever talked about, the truth was that they didn't need to. "Let's just assume that we'll be together for all eternity," Michael assured Angie. And that's exactly what they set out to do, as they began dating shortly after. Only there was still lots they had to consider.
They were first cousins, and heading down a romantic path would call for lots of roadblocks. They were going to have to do things differently, to take things slow. "I didn't want to set myself up for heartbreak," as Michael put it. But his emotions weren't the only ones on the line.
The Moment Their Children Found Out
Sure, they didn't think much of their relationship. But how would Angie's children handle the news? After all, heading down this road wouldn't just be affecting them as a couple: Her children would be meeting a potential new father figure. What if they didn't approve?
For Angie, it was a scary thought - being wedged between her children and the love of her life. And so, "instead of telling them? We let them observe what was going on," Peang explained. Safe to say, her and Michael's PDA didn't go over quite as planned. "My younger girl was pretty upset and started crying."
They Shared Pictures on Facebook
Unfortunately for Angela, her children's unwelcomed remarks would soon be the least of her worries. And by January 2019, she'd learn that the hard way. As she and her cousin raced to Facebook to announce their relationship to friends and family, they were met with utter mayhem. What happened?
It was supposed to be a playful post, all in good fun. Only as Angie shared racy Polaroids of her and Michael online, it was no laughing matter. "[People] were shocked and horrified," Michael revealed. Unfortunately, their family's disapproval was about to reach new heights…
Family Members Disowned Them
"With our extended family, it did spark some controversy," Angie confessed of the events that followed: Many of their relatives were suddenly distancing themselves. Family gatherings were suddenly more and more scarce. Even their own parents were both "alarmed and concerned," as Peang put it. But that's not all.
A first cousin, Cathy, was so upset by the news, she decided to take legal action against the controversial couple. "She's become the biggest hater in our family," Angela explained of her cousin's decision to disown both her and Michael. "I think she might be jealous."
They Got Married in Colorado
But by springtime, none of that even mattered anymore. Angie and Michael's family count might have dropped, but they officially had all the love they needed. As they headed out East towards Colorado, the happy couple was about to prove they weren't going anywhere, anytime soon.
"We got married - not because we're religious, but to protect ourselves legally," a newly titled Mrs. Lee explained. On March 4, 2019, Angie and Michael tied the knot in a Grand Junction courthouse. They vowed to stick together - for better for worse. If only they knew what that'd call for...
They Went Viral
From first cousins to husband and wife, nothing about Angie and Michael's journey was ordinary. Their story left supporters and skeptics alike craving answers. But by the end of the year, the newlyweds took to our screens to do exactly that - and it left people with even more questions...
From landing a spot in Dr. Phil's hot seat to their limited series, Extreme Love, their time on-screen had officially gone viral. "Imagine... you have met someone that you're head over heels in love with... that just so happens to be your cousin," Michael explained to viewers tuning in. But that's not all he said...
"We're Really Like Everyone Else"
As far as Michael and his first cousin were concerned? None of the press they were receiving was even justified. "We're really like everyone else," Lee assured. In fact, as he put it, the only reason people have questions is that they have yet to evolve.
"What if the question that was [being] asked was: Would it be okay to have an interracial marriage?" Michael continued. "60 years ago, the majority of people would have raised their hands no... we've evolved, we have learned more about how things work."
Their Marriage Is Illegal In Utah
But the truth is that while Mr. and Mrs. Lee might view their relationship like any other, on paper? It looks very different. At least while they're in state-lines, that is: According to Utah law, marriage between first cousins is illegal. In other words?
Technically, the married couple isn't recognized to be married by their residing state. But that's not all. Intercourse between such relatives is also forbidden in Utah - for fears of birth defects in any potential children: Michael and Angie could be facing up to 5 years behind bars and an estimated $10,000 fine.
They're Very Open About Their Love Life
There's no doubt about it: Michael and Angie have put almost everything on the line for the sake of love. But despite the potential fines and federal prison they might eventually face, the two haven't been shy sharing their journey with the rest of us.
From uploading videos online - including "advice for cousins in love" - to racy photoshoots, perhaps the most controversial thing they've done? Allude to their love life, a 3rd-degree felony in Utah: "We have a strong attraction… it's very mutually satisfying," hinted Angie of Michael's "erotic side."
They Had a Baby Together
But if there was ever any doubt as to what was truly going on behind closed doors? On May 16, 2020, at 10:24 a.m., suddenly everything became clear: Michael and Angela Lee welcomed their very own child, a baby boy, Eric Seth. Only in becoming a family of 3, the Lees also welcomed a slew of new concerns.
After all, the chance of having a baby with genetic disorders is significantly higher between blood relatives than other couples. Was their baby going to be at risk? "We did genetic testing and found out it was OK," Angie assured. Sure enough, at 8.8 pounds and with a full head of hair, their son appeared as healthy as ever.
Their Petition To Legalize Marriage Between Cousins
From marriage to now, a mini-me of their own, Michael and Angie have continued to defy all odds. But according to the proud parents? There was never anything to prove in the first place. That's why they decided to start a petition - a movement set to inspire other familial couples: "Allow first cousins to marry in Utah," they wrote.
"We believe that the law is outdated and needs to be changed to accommodate us." Sure enough, they're not the only ones who felt that way. To this day, almost 2,000 users have signed their petition. "You'd think [Utah'd] want to be more mainstream and less strange, considering what they already do with polygamy."
Their Message to Skeptics
The truth was that their newfound taste of parenthood meant so much more than just expanding their family. In doing so, they also sent a message to the skeptics: "My personal experience has shown that supporters have more saying power than haters," Angie explained.
"Are you ashamed of your marriage with your husband or wife?" Michael added. "Should you go hide in the corner?… I don't feel like I should have to - or that Angie and I should have to keep it some kind of a secret." From the looks of it? Angie and Michael aren't going anywhere, anytime soon…
From getting married to going viral, Angela Peang and Michael Lee's journey has taken us on one whirlwind of a ride. "Despite the controversy, we took on the adventure of a lifetime, learning what it means to love," Angie gushed. But what now? Where do they go from here?
Sure, they've had their fair share of obstacles, of skeptics - of scandal. But at the end of the day? The Lee family is more hopeful than ever for what the future has in store. As Angie put it: "Just 2 years [together], looking forward to many more…"
When a 7-year-old Michael stepped foot inside the Peang residence back in 1989, he had no idea his world was about to be turned upside down. Safe to say, his life has never been the same ever since. But despite the obstacles hurled his way, he continues to stand tall.
They say all odds are off when it comes to love, and the Lee family might just be living proof: "There's not a force great enough in this universe to keep me apart from Angie," as Michael once vowed. Sure enough, despite all the odds stacked against them, they've made it out to the other side - even stronger.
And we've got a feeling this is just the beginning...