- Associated Press - Thursday, February 20, 2014

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - Maine lawmakers have rejected a bill that supporters say will strengthen legal protections for religious freedom.

The Democratic-controlled House voted 89-52 in favor of defeating the bill on Thursday. It was rejected by the Senate on Tuesday.

Republican Sen. David Burns of Whiting says his bill would ensure the state has a strong legal justification before it can infringe on someone’s religious liberty. Burns says he bill mirrors a federal law, but that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it can’t be applied to the states.

Opponents contend the bill would allow people to use religion as an excuse to discrimination against others. They say the bill is unnecessary because religious freedom is already protected under the Maine Constitution and federal and state laws.