Marriage is a socially sanctioned union that imposes rights and obligations on the parties. Although it can consist of a variety of combinations of men and women, the most common form has been a monogamous relationship between a man and a woman. Although libertarians would permit individuals to make the decisions that are most likely to increase their welfare, subject to limitations if there are effects on third parties, seldom have people been free to make their own decisions about marriage—and especially their spouse. For most of history, decisions about whom someone would marry were controlled by others, especially the spouses' families. As the ability of individuals to choose their own spouse has increased, familial restrictions have been replaced by legal ones imposed by the ...

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