A measure that some called “anti-Muslim” failed to gain enough support to clear its first committee hearing last week, with one moderate Senate Republican, Don Coram of Montrose, casting the deciding vote. Coram has become a vote of moderation within the Republican caucus this session, due in part to moving from a conservative House district to a Senate district that includes more-moderate Durango.
The bill, carried by Republican Sen. Vicki Marble for Fort Collins, would have barred Colorado courts in making decisions based on foreign laws.
The word “Shariah,” which refers to a Muslim code of conduct, doesn’t appear in the bill, and the bill itself is religiously neutral. But the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups, has said the measure was pushed by anti-Muslim groups targeting shariah.
Marble didn’t address the bill’s origin and said only that the bill doesn’t have anything to do with “any religious sect.” But Iman Jodeh of the Colorado Muslim Society called the bill racist and bigoted, and explained that a similar law in Oklahoma was struck down by the courts as unconstitutional. “Why are we wasting our time because individuals in this room are uneducated about Islam?
“I am an American Muslim,” she said. “I follow Colorado law.” Jodeh also told the committee that that there’s no reason the American public should fear anything about Shariah law, established so that Muslims can follow their own traditions safely. “Why is that any different” from any other religion’s traditions, she asked.
Coram did not give a reason for his “no” vote. The bill died with two Democrats and Coram voting against and two Republicans, including its co-sponsor, Sen. John Cooke of Greeley, voting in favor.
Coram was also one of two critical “no” votes last week on an anti-abortion bill that died in the state Senate.
Coram photo courtesy of doncoram.com; Marble file photo