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Civil marriage recognizes and creates the rights and obligations intrinsic to matrimony before the state.

When a marriage is performed with religious content under the auspices of a religious institution it is a religious marriage.

Over the twentieth century, a growing number of countries and other jurisdictions have lifted bans on and have established legal recognition for interracial marriage, interfaith marriage, and most recently, gender-neutral marriage.

Since the late twentieth century, major social changes in Western countries have led to changes in the demographics of marriage, with the age of first marriage increasing, fewer people marrying, and more couples choosing to cohabit rather than marry.

For example, the number of marriages in Europe decreased by 30% from 1975 to 2005.

Some cultures allow the dissolution of marriage through divorce or annulment.

In some areas, child marriages and polygamy may occur in spite of national laws against the practice.

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