Bill banning Shariah law in Florida family cases passes Senate panel



The bill (SB 58) would ban courts or other administrative authorities form using religious or foreign law in deciding matters related to family law, including divorce and child custody. The House approved a similar measure last year but it died on the Senate floor.

The Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee approved the bill by a 5-4 vote, with one Republican voting against it and one Democrat voting in favor, surprising opponents of the bill, who expected it to fail.

Critics, including the Florida Bar, the Anti-Defamation League, the ACLU of Florida and the National Council of Jewish Women, contend the bill would have a negative impact on Jewish divorces, called “gets,” and could trouble the state’s relationship with Israel. Under Jewish law, only a man can grant a divorce to a woman.

That violates Florida and federal constitutional protections, David Barkey, religious freedom counsel for the Florida Anti-Defamation League told the panel. And it would bar courts from recognizing any divorce settlements granted under Israeli or Jewish law, he said.

“This legislation … could undermine Florida’s strong reputation and track record as a center for trade with Israel and other nations” and “serve as an incentive for them to take their business elsewhere,” Barkey said.

And the bill could have a chilling effect on Israeli nationals and dual citizens already living in Florida, NCJW Vice President of Advocacy Linda Geller Schwartz, who lives in Boca Raton, said.

“The message being given to the Jewish population and other minorities is a very unwelcoming one,” she said.

Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, the bill’s sponsor, drew fire from Islamic groups two weeks ago when he likened Shariah law to a “dreadful disease” requiring inoculation to protect Americans.

House sponsor Larry Metz, R-Yalaha, told the panel the bill (SB 58, HB 351) is a safeguard against having “offensive law invading our legal system.”

A federal court struck down an Oklahoma amendment banning courts from relying on Shariah law. Unlike the Oklahoma law, the Florida proposal does not mention Shariah law. A similar law went into effect in Kansas last year.

The bill would ban courts from basing a decision regarding family law cases on a foreign law that does not grant the parties the same constitutional rights and privileges guaranteed by the state or federal constitution. And it would ban courts from enforcing decisions, such as alimony or child custody, granted in foreign courts that are not the same as state law.

The measure does not apply to ecclesiastical matters or corporations, something Hays said is meant to protect churches and religious institutions.


Reader Comments


Next Up in News

Study: Marijuana secondhand smoke worse than cigarettes
Study: Marijuana secondhand smoke worse than cigarettes
Standing in a mosh pit at a concert near people smoking marijuana may pose a danger to your health more than secondhand tobacco smoke, researchers at...
  House veteran faces novice daughter of state Rep. in south county seat
 House veteran faces novice daughter of state Rep. in south county seat
A daughter hoping to succeed her father in an open Florida House seat and a two-term House veteran on a comeback bid are vying to represent south...
Ashley Judd joins Black Lives Matter protesters outside DNC
Ashley Judd joins Black Lives Matter protesters outside DNC
Ashley Judd is among the many celebrities that have appeared at the Democratic National Convention this week.
West Palm police: Man shot in Pleasant City neighborhood
2:45 update: The victim has been identified as a man. He has sustained non-life threatening injuries.
Another FLOTUS confirms White House was built by slaves, discredits Bill O'Reilly comments
Another FLOTUS confirms White House was built by slaves, discredits Bill O'Reilly comments
During Michelle Obama's Democratic National Convention speech on Monday, she talked about her family's time in the White House, a house that she said...
More Stories

You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myPalmBeachPost.com.

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of free premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

X

Welcome to myPalmBeachPost.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myPalmBeachPost.com.