‘Pandora’s Box’ of Child Marriages, Polyamory Possible Under Proposed California Amendment, Warns Group

A California pro-family organization is warning a proposed state constitutional amendment to eliminate the traditional definition of marriage from state law could open up “Pandora’s box” to legitimize incestuous, polyamorous, and child marriages.

Assembly Constitutional Amendment 5 (ACA 5), which aims to repeal Proposition 8’s language that states marriage is only “between a man and a woman,” was introduced by Scott Wiener, a Democratic state senator, and Assembly member Evan Low to protect same-sex marriages. If it is passed, in its place, the state constitution would provide, “The right to marry is a fundamental right.”

However, the California Family Council (CFC), a conservative advocacy group, believes ACA 5’s wording is too open-ended and will lead to the normalization of nontraditional marriage structures that could potentially harm the development of children.

“In a society like ours, you never can count on what people are willing to do for legal and financial and political reasons,” said Jonathan Keller, CFC President. “And ACA 5, again, eliminates any of those safeguards, and it opens up Pandora’s Box.”

“You could have siblings getting married. You could have nephews and nieces marrying uncles and aunts. You could have, potentially, even mothers and fathers marrying each other, or mothers and children, or fathers and children marrying each other,” said Keller.

After Prop. 8 was passed in 2008, it faced legal challenges, and state officials refused to defend it, effectively suspending the legislation.

Although it is still part of the constitution, it hasn’t been enforceable for over a decade, said Keller. After the overturn of Roe vs. Wade in the summer of 2022, Democrats in California decided to revisit the language of the law out of “fear it would go into effect.”

“And that’s how we got this new initiative,” said Keller of ACA 5.

Concern follows Oakland’s approval of polyamorous relationships

This concern follows the city council of Oakland’s approval of polyamorous relationships in April to protect “diverse family structures” from discrimination. The Berkeley City Council passed a similar proposal in May, which paved the way for nontraditional relationship recognition in the liberal Bay Area.

Keller stated ACA 5 could be “a disaster” if enshrined into law since California is one of the few states where child marriage continues to remain legal.

“Because it’s going to set up a constitutional protection to say, ‘well, this is a constitutional right,’ and it is essentially an absolute constitutional right,” said Keller.

According to American Community Survey data, around 8,789 children in California between 15 and 17 years old entered into marriage in 2021. Massachusetts cities Cambridge and Somerville recently enacted legislation extending to nontraditional families.

Wiener said last year in a statement that rolling back Prop. 8 “is an essential step in protecting the freedom to marry for millions of LGBTQ Californians.”

“This scar on our Constitution is unconscionable, and it needs to be removed, especially with extremist Supreme Court Justices threatened to overturn marriage equality,” said Wiener. “It’s time to send this issue to California voters to right this wrong.”