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Goodbye to marriage in California? A pro-family organization warns of the dangers of an amendment that could validate child marriages

According to the group, 'ACA 5' would open "Pandora's box," which would have lasting consequences.

Gavin Newsom

(WANG Zhao / AFP)

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The California Legislature is pushing a bill to amend the state constitution with the controversial Assembly Constitutional Amendment 5 (ACA 5), which is trying to alter the definition of marriage in the Golden State. Despite having the support of Democrats, a pro-family organization warned that it would be like opening "Pandora's box" and that it could lead to "unintended consequences," such as even validating child marriages.

ACA 5 would repeal Proposition 8, which was approved in 2008 and add the following phrase: “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” Although the Supreme Court repealed this language following the ruling of Obergefell vs. Hodges in 2015, it remains in the state constitution.

With this context, Senator Scott Wiener and Assemblymember Evan Low's proposal seeks to modify that language and give it a different meaning. If approved, it would replace the aforementioned text with the following: "The right to marry is a fundamental right."

"Pandora's box"

The California Family Council spoke out strongly against ACA 5, arguing that it could have very different results than what it intends to achieve.

"Earlier this year, the left’s push to dismantle the traditional family structure took a significant step forward with the introduction of ACA 5. The bill, currently serving as a placeholder while it moves through the legislature, aims to repeal Proposition 8 and could potentially enshrine same-sex marriage and other non-traditional relationships into state law. The vague language of ACA 5, which merely states the legislature’s intent to 'amend the Constitution of the State relating to marriage equality', opens the door to a range of unintended consequences," the group said in a statement.

Specifically, they allege that it could end up legitimizing polyamorous, incestuous and child marriages.

"We are deeply concerned about the implications of ACA 5 for families and children in California. The absence of any clear definition of marriage is alarming and paves the way for the legalization of polygamy, child marriage, and incestuous relationships. Stable, traditional marriages are vital for the well-being of children and society,” added Jonathan Keller, president of the California Family Council.

Concern about this issue has been increasing ever since the Oakland City Council approved polyamorous relationships in April, with the argument of protecting "diverse family structures" from discrimination. In turn, the Berkeley City Council approved a similar proposal in May, paving the way for greater recognition of non-traditional relationships.

Keller is especially concerned about child marriages, which are still legal in California, but fears the legislation could give the practice "constitutional protection." "Because a constitutional protection is going to be established to say, 'well, this is a constitutional right,' and it is essentially an absolute constitutional right," he said.