Map Source: National Conference of State Legislatures
Only three days after filing it, a legislator withdraws his Pizza & Prayer Bill:
Maine Sen. David Burns will withdraw his ‘religious freedom’ bill because of scrutiny the bill has received and comparisons to the controversial Indiana law that drew national outcry over concerns it allowed for discrimination against gays and lesbians.
Burns has said the bill, LD 1340, was about protecting Mainers’ right to free exercise of religion from unnecessarily burdensome state law.While he played down comparisons to Indiana’s law, Burns’ bill is nearly identical in substance to the controversial religious freedom law passed recently in that state, which sparked national controversy and debate over whether religious conviction can justify discrimination, specifically against gays and lesbians.
On Wednesday, Burns said his bill was not about discrimination and blamed his critics and the media for preventing even the possibility of a “fair hearing.”
“Opponents of this bill and some in the media have poisoned the well of public discussion,” Burns, R-Whiting, said in a release Wednesday. “They have been guided by an unwillingness to discuss factual information and inaccurate comparisons to the events in Indiana.”
All of the legislature's majority Republican leadership were quick to endorse the bill.
Burns said this month that he was aware of the controversy in other states, but that he believes the issue is important.
“I put it in last year, and I thought it should have passed last year,” Burns said. “I think it’s reasonable and I think it’s needed. Historically, as you’ve been hearing over and over again, there has not been any bad ramifications because of (the federal law) in 20 years.”
You can read the text of the bill here.
From the National Conference of State Legislatures, a list of the bills pending nationally as of April 13, 2015 is here.