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When a marriage is performed with religious content under the auspices of a religious institution it is a religious marriage.
Religious marriage recognizes and creates the rights and obligations intrinsic to matrimony before that religion.
Around the world, primarily in developed democracies, there has been a general trend towards ensuring equal rights within marriage for women and legally recognizing the marriages of interfaith, interracial, and same-sex couples.
These trends coincide with the broader human rights movement.
These changes have occurred primarily in Western countries.
In the 21st century, there continue to be controversies regarding the legal status of married women, legal acceptance of or leniency towards violence within marriage (especially sexual violence), traditional marriage customs such as dowry and bride price, forced marriage, marriageable age, and criminalization of consensual behaviors such as premarital and extramarital sex.
In modern times, a growing number of countries, primarily developed democracies, have lifted bans on and have established legal recognition for the marriages of interfaith, interracial, and same-sex couples.
Some cultures allow the dissolution of marriage through divorce or annulment.
This forced Gough to disregard sexual access as a key element of marriage and to define it in terms of legitimacy of offspring alone: marriage is "a relationship established between a woman and one or more other persons, which provides a child born to the woman under circumstances not prohibited by the rules of relationship, is accorded full birth-status rights common to normal members of his society or social stratum." Economic anthropologist Duran Bell has criticized the legitimacy-based definition on the basis that some societies do not require marriage for legitimacy.Religious marriage is known variously as sacramental marriage in Catholicism, nikah in Islam, nissuin in Judaism, and various other names in other faith traditions, each with their own constraints as to what constitutes, and who can enter into, a valid religious marriage.Some countries do not recognize locally performed religious marriage on its own, and require a separate civil marriage for official purposes.For example, the number of marriages in Europe decreased by 30% from 1975 to 2005.Historically, in most cultures, married women had very few rights of their own, being considered, along with the family's children, the property of the husband; as such, they could not own or inherit property, or represent themselves legally (see for example coverture).
The act of marriage usually creates normative or legal obligations between the individuals involved, and any offspring they may produce or adopt.