'Anti-Shariah' bill passes Florida House

March 2, 2012 at 9:03 AM

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., March 2 (UPI) -- The Florida House of Representatives passed a bill banning the use of religious or foreign law as a part of a legal decision or contract, officials said.

The measure, which the House passed 92-24 Thursday, effectively gives Florida law more authority than foreign law in marriage, divorce and custody cases, The Miami Herald reported.

"With the increasing internationalization of our economy, the opportunity for foreign law to become an issue in a court proceeding in Florida is greater than ever before," said Republican Rep. Larry Metz, the bill's sponsor. "It's incumbent upon the Legislature to provide guidance."

Critics have dubbed it the bill as "anti-Shariah," referring to the Koran-based code of Islamic law.

Democratic Rep. Elaine Schwartz of Hollywood expressed concern the law would void divorces mediated through Jewish tribunals.

"I've received thousands of e-mails from constituents who oppose this," said Schwartz, who fought in opposition of the bill with Democratic Rep. Jim Waldman of Coconut Creek.

Legal authorities have also lamented the bill.

"The courts of Florida already refuse to support the laws of another state or country that contradicts our public policy," said Carin Marie Porras, who will head the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar. "But this kind of widespread applicability ... it impairs the right of people to contract, it affects cases of divorce ... this clearly goes against the fundamental rights of the people of Florida."

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