Marriage in the United States is a legal, social, and religious institution.
The legal recognition of marriage is regulated by individual states, each of which sets an "age of majority" at which individuals are free to enter into marriage solely on their own consent, as well as in what ages underage persons are able to marry with parental and/or judicial consent. Marriage laws have changed considerably during United States history, including the removal of bans on interracial marriage and same-sex marriage. In 2009, there were 2,077,000 marriages, according to the Census bureau. The median age for the first marriage has increased in recent years. The median age in the early 1970s was 23 for men and 21 for women, and it rose to 28 for men and 26 for women by 2009.