‘Though they don’t plan on having kids, can someone please enlighten me on how this is okay?’
Debby Zutant, 50, married her half-brother Joe Daniel Burns, 37, in 2015 and believes ‘It’s nobody’s business.’ Simply ‘ Love is love’
Zutant was given up for adoption by her dad Danny and her then 15-year-old mother as a baby, thereafter she grew up in a middle-class family with loving adoptive parents in Syracuse, NY
Joe Burns who was born 14 years after Debby to Danny and his new partner, was raised by their father and his mother in Wyoming
The pair met in 2003 after she tracked down their father, Danny, in New York, and it was ‘love at first sight’ despite their shared blood
The then 35 -year-old and 23-year-old siblings had sex on their second meeting and Debby, a bartender, moved Joe, an artist, into her home
For 10 years, they lived as a couple, sharing bed and body behind closed doors, while presenting the façade of siblings in public
Finally in 2012 after the father died, they revealed their romance to their relative who suspected it all along and accepted them as a couple
Now, Debby is speaking out to make others feel comfortable with Genetic Sexual Attraction [GSA]
Debby Zutant, 50, [left], married her 36-year-old half-brother Joe Burns, [right], three years ago. The pair had been living in as a couple and having sex on a regular basis she said, before getting married in Cuba while on a cruise
A woman who married her never-before-seen brother after meeting him for the first time as an adult has spoken out about their union and why she feels it is ‘nobody’s business’ that though lovers, they share the same father.
Debby Zutant, 50, married Joe Burns, 37, in Cuba in October 2015. The pair met 12 years earlier in 2003 after she tracked down her biological father Danny who, after putting her up for adoption when she was a baby, went on to have Joe with another woman.
They fell in love ‘at first sight’, had sex on the couch of her Syracuse, New York, home the second time they spent time together and moved in together within two weeks of knowing each other. For a decade they lived in secret as a couple before finally telling her family about their ‘special bond’ in 2012.
A defiant Debby said was motivated to speak out to prove that her attraction to her half-brother is not freakish or sick but the symptom of Genetic Sexual Attraction, (GSA) a well-documented condition which is common in newly-reunited estranged relatives. The first time they set eyes on each other, ‘We just looked at each other and it was like instantaneous, the attraction. It’s not even about the sex. It’s a bond unlike anything’, for the pair.
Such is the case of Debby Zutant,who married her half-brother Joe Burns in 2015. In Cuba, the pair enlisted a local prostitute, Cathy, to act as Debby’s Maid of Honor.
Now, they live in Key West, Florida, where she says they are free to go about their lives like any other married couple. We have struggles like everybody else but we just don’t even think about anymore,’ she says Debby.
GSA is defined medical terms as an overwhelming sexual attraction that may develop between close blood relatives who first meet as adults.
Debby insists she is not ashamed of the unorthodox relationship. She says: “Although Joe and I are siblings, when we met, we both fell madly in love with each other.
“I know we share the same blood, but we never grew up together so it is completely different to other siblings.
“I was adopted when I was three, I always felt something was missing and yearned to find my real family.”
When Debby was 35, she paid a private investigator over £2,000 to hunt down her biological parents.
She says: “When I was reunited with my mum and dad, my father told me that I had a half-brother called Joe.
Debby and Joe met for the first time in 2002 after she tracked down their father who put her up for adoption when she was a baby.
She recalled the first time they had sex and how it left them both ‘mortified’ until she began researching sibling intimacy and discovered a ‘community’ of others who were experiencing the same thing.
‘We were on the couch on opposite ends and within the next hour we inched closer and closer and it happened.’I was mortified. I know that people will think I am some sort of hillbilly but I’m not, I’m a normal person,’ she said.
Brother-Sister love: They came out as a couple to their families in 2014, got married three years ago, and have no regrets
He was older and in a ‘bad place’ in his life when he impregnated her birth mother, a Roman Catholic, when she was just 15, Debby recounts.
Her parents decided to put Debby up for adoption and she was taken in by a loving, middle-class family, the Zutants. The baby girl grew up in Syracuse, New York, less than a mile from where Danny lived for most of his life. Fourteen years ago, when she was 36, she hired a private investigator to track down her birth parents.
Danny, her father, was still alive but had been in a car accident and was mentally disabled. He nonetheless remembered her when they met and produced a tattered photograph of her as a baby that he had been carrying around in his wallet for 36 years.
He also revealed that after putting her up for adoption, he stayed with her mother for 16 years but finally left her to be with a different woman – Joe’s mother.
Joe was born and lived in Wyoming where he and his mother lived off the land. Five or six years after he was born, Danny and his mother parted ways.
He stayed in touch with his father, however, and was part of his life by the time Debby tracked him down.
They met for the first time in 2002 when she was working in a bar in Syracuse.
Debby ]left], is a bartender and boat motor repair student. Joe [right[, is an artist and a landscaper. They live together in Key West, Florida, as any other couple would. Debby says their love life is no body’s business
‘There was a big huge party. It was a busy day at the bar and one of my uncles comes in and he says, “Debbie, I want you to meet your half-brother Joe,”‘ Debby said.
It was, she said, ‘love at first sight’.
‘We just looked at each other and it was like instantaneous, the attraction. It’s not even about the sex. It’s a bond unlike anything. Nobody can understand this bond it’s so strong.’
The newly introduced half-siblings decided to go to dinner to get to know one another.
As she got ready for their outing, Debby had to squash the feeling that she was going on a date.
‘I was having to remind myself that it wasn’t a date, I was just doing out with my half-brother.’
During the meal, Joe, an artist, revealed that he was living with their father in his small apartment. Debby, who owned her own home, immediately offered him a room at her house.
There was no sexual interaction on their first date but when he did visit her soon afterwards, the sparks flew: “We were on the couch on opposite ends and within the next hour we inched closer and closer and it happened.”
‘I freaked out. I was like, “What is wrong with you?!”
We were both like, “What have we just done.”’
The newly introduced half-siblings decided to go to dinner to get to know one another. There was no sex on their first date but on his second visit soon afterwards, the sparks flew: “We were on the couch on opposite ends and within the next hour we inched closer and closer and it happened,” Debby said
Despite their shame, Joe moved in and they immediately started sharing a room. They had regular sex and lived as a couple behind close doors but kept their relationship hidden from the world and did not discuss the ‘elephant in the room.’
Racked by thoughts that their relationship was wrong, Debby began researching what she now knows to be GSA.
She was comforted to learn there was a condition for what she was experiencing and took solace in the other people who were online and said they were afflicted by it.
Nonetheless, they kept their romance hidden. ‘Joe wasn’t comfortable with people knowing about it,’ she said, adding that he did not have a ‘support system’ in place to help him through any form of admission.
Over the course of the next 10 years, Debby started confiding in friends about their illicit living arrangement. They accepted her, ‘100 per cent’, and vowed o keep her secret.
In 2012, Debby left her corporate office job and started an art business with Joe in Florida. They moved to Key West where they introduced themselves to their new neighbors as any other couple would.
‘It’s nobody’s business as long as nobody’s harmed,’ she insists.
‘We literally lived a double life. People knew us as a couple. At this point, we just didn’t care.’ Finally, in 2014, the couple came out their families about their secret relationship.
Debby says: “I was a nervous wreck when I told our family.
“But it turned out a lot of them had already guessed what was going on.
“They all said that as long as me and Joe were happy, they would never judge us.”
Debby, without consulting Joe and acting on a wave of impulse, called her adoptive mother and told her about their relationship.
‘I said I need to talk to you about something. She said: “I’ve known you for 46 years, I knew this all along and I was just waiting for confirmation.
I hadn’t had a boyfriend for 10 years so she figured it out: ‘She was totally fine which encouraged me to call some of my other relatives.’
Her adoptive father was equally supportive.
‘He hesitated for a minute, he’s very conservative, then he said: “I’m happy for you. I’m glad and I support you.”
Debby, who is studying to get a qualification in boat repairs, says she does not care what others think of her unorthodox relationship.
Debby says: “Although it’s illegal, Joe and I got married, we are too in love to care.
“The registry office didn’t notice we were related as we had different surnames, so we got away with it.
In 2015, they went to Cuba on vacation and decided to do a second wedding ceremony. They rented a sailboat and a captain who performed the ceremony for them with a Cuban prostitute they found in the marina serving as Debby’s maid of honor.
Debby [left] and Joe [right], on their wedding day In Cuba, the pair enlisted a local prostitute, Cathy, to act as Debby’s Maid of Honor and the boat captain performed the ceremony.
The second The first ceremony was held at a US marriage registry
Family consent: Debby and Joe repeat their wedding vows with her friend Gary Alan [left], her adoptive mother Helen Cimino Liddle [second left] and adoptive father Fred Liddle [right] in attendance
Ever since, they have been living as a married couple in Key West, Florida and while their marriage is illegal, neither cares that they could face prosecution.
They believe that their marriage is no different to any other between two consenting adults and that it is nobody else’s business: ‘Until the day that I could no longer technically go to jail for my marriage, there is no marriage equality in my eyes,’ she said.
‘It’s nobody’s business as long as it’s consenting adults. If two men want to be together, two women or three women or 2 men and 3 women. ‘ Debby maintains. ‘It’s nobody’s business as long as nobody’s harmed.’
The pair do not have any plans to have children.
“Now Joe and I have been together for 15 years, and have been married for nearly three years.
“Funnily enough, we never actually talk about being related; it’s a stupid taboo that hopefully won’t exist in the future.