Controversial legislation concerning divorce, child support and other aspects of family law is once again making its way through the Florida Senate. The sometimes-called “Anti-Shariah” bill (SB 58), sponsored by Senator Alan Hays, would ban courts from allowing foreign or religious laws to influence decisions on matters relating to divorce and other family law issues. Even though the bill has passed the Governmental Oversight & Accountability committee review, it faces stiff opposition from Muslim and Jewish groups and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
Proponents of the bill claim that it is a protective measure for residents of the state of Florida in that it prevents the denial of any rights by a religious group or foreign entity. Supporters use the appalling lack of women´s rights in countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan as examples of religion-backed denial of basic freedoms. Supporters also deny that the legislation targets any single religion or country and that the bill, if passed, would be protection for all Floridians.
Those who oppose the legislation see the bill completely differently. The ACLU, for example, sees the bill as an attack on Muslims and on their belief system. They also believe that banning courts from considering foreign or religious laws in decision-making limits their ability to fairly hear cases involving international issues.
No matter what side one is on, the debate is a fierce one. However, one thing cannot be denied by either, the bill has the potential to affect decisions made in Florida concerning divorce if it is passed. On the other side of the argument, decisions made concerning divorce in Florida may be affected if it is not.