Until the last fifty years, marriage, defined by almost all state legislatures as the union of a man and a woman, carried with it legally defined benefits that reflected a preferred relationship over being single. At the same time, marriage law also reflected the reality of the domination of the man over the woman, whereby a wife was considered more like the property of her husband rather than an individual. With the advent of the civil rights and women’s rights movements as well as developments in constitutional law, that portrait of marriage has changed radically and women no longer lose their legal identity upon marriage but maintain their own. From a legal vantage point, there is now equality in marriage, which has de-emphasized gender and may have provided the predicate for same-sex marriage. Civil marriage is now defined in some states as a monogamous relationship between two adults.
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