AUGUSTA — A Republican Maine senator says he’s withdrawing his “religious freedom” bill that’s similar to proposals that have caused protests in other states.

Sen. David Burns said Wednesday that he doesn’t believe his proposal would get a fair hearing in the Legislature. He says that opponents and the media have “poisoned the well of public discussion.”

Similar bills sparked fierce criticism, boycotts and protests in Indiana and Arkansas from people who say it would allow discrimination against gays and lesbians.

Burns introduced the proposal last year, but it was killed in the Democratic-led Legislature. Burns insists his proposal was different than the one in Indiana and was based entirely on a 1993 federal law.

The bill would have prohibited government from infringing upon someone’s religious beliefs without a “compelling” interest.

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