Application of foreign law in Virginia courts; decisions concerning domestic relations. (HB1322)

Introduced By

Del. Rick Morris (R-Carrollton) with support from co-patron Del. Mark Cole (R-Fredericksburg)


Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law


Application of foreign law in Virginia courts; domestic relations. Provides that if a court, arbitrator, administrative agency, or other adjudicative or enforcement authority bases its decision in a domestic relations matter on foreign law, and such decision violates a person's rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and Constitution of Virginia, then such decision will be void as violative of the public policy of the Commonwealth. Read the Bill »


Bill Has Failed


10/26/2012Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/09/13 13100591D
10/26/2012Referred to Committee for Courts of Justice
01/10/2013Assigned Courts sub: #2 Civil
01/11/2013Subcommittee recommends striking from docket
01/16/2013Stricken from docket by Courts of Justice


Waldo Jaquith writes:

I think that the idea behind this bill is to make Virginians exempt from all laws in other states pertaining to gay marriage. So if two women are married in Washington, they have a child, and then they divorce, if one of those women flees to Virginia with their child, then any court order issued by Washington demanding the return of the child or custody-sharing would be without any power in Virginia.

This is a horrific idea.

Rick Sincere writes:

I would agree with you but the bill specifies that "foreign law" means laws of foreign countries (outside the jurisdiction of the United States and its territories) and not, as is often the case, law outside the Commonwealth of Virginia.

My guess is it has more to do with sharia than gay marriage, though it could be applied to marriages from Canada, South Africa, Argentina, Spain, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, etc.

Waldo Jaquith writes:

That makes a lot of sense, Rick. In light of that bill remains a pretty bad idea, for what it accomplishes (as you point out), but not nearly as bad as I'd thought it was.

I really wish legislators would get in the habit of providing statements of intent, when they file legislation. That way we wouldn't need to divine its intent.

ACLU-VA Religious Liberty, tracking this bill in Photosynthesis, notes:

The ACLU of Virginia opposes this bill because this bill is part of a national wave of proposed anti-Sharia legislation. Protections already exist in our legal system to ensure that courts do not improperly consider religious law where it would violate basic principles of U.S. federal or state policy. Prohibiting courts from considering Islamic law in their decisions serves only one purpose: to bar Muslims from having the same rights and access to the courts as other individuals.