A religious exemption for caterers? Really? Doesn’t this expose the fundamental contradiction between “religious exemptions” and equal civil rights for lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people? If you include catering, a completely contractual and voluntary arrangement to provide food services, in a “religious exemption” clause, you are just catering to bigotry instead.
The situation in New York risks becoming an example of “over-accommodation.” The “Free Exercise Clause” of the U.S. Constitution usually means protections against infringements against individuals’ beliefs and practices that are “fundamental,” “ultimate,” and that have “formal and external signs like clergy and the observance of holidays.” New York’s current laws are already sufficient to protect serious questions of religious conscience in the fundamental issue, namely whether a faith group would be required to perform a same-sex wedding. They won’t.
Of course, the writer of that article is herself a former Catholic, now atheist, so I have a feeling she doesn't get why being placed in a position of having to choose between your religious faith and your livelihood might be a big deal to some. Her focus on catering ignores the reality that asking a Catholic caterer, an Orthodox Jewish caterer, or a Muslim caterer to serve food at the celebration of a same-sex couple's "wedding" is asking them to ignore the teachings of their religion about the impossibility of two men or two women ever being "married," and to risk the possibility of creating scandal by giving the appearance that they have no problem with such a "wedding." Even worse, of course, is the likelihood that should a religious believer actually cater at such a "wedding," and anything at all goes wrong (as things often do at big parties), that the angry same-sex pair will sue the caterer and allege that the burned chicken or cold entree was done deliberately out of bigotry instead of merely being the sort of accident that can happen when you're hired to serve food to 450 people none of whom actually shows up on time, thanks to the photographer.
And as to "voluntary" and "contractual," well, remember the photographer in New Mexico who was sued for refusing to photograph a lesbian ceremony? The reason caterers, photographers, and others are being included in religious exemption language is because otherwise business owners who refuse to enter these "voluntary" and "contractual" business arrangements with gay pairs might be sued and have to prove that they were, in fact, already booked on the day in question or otherwise unavailable--or face the kinds of punitive fines Elaine Huguenin did for refusing to offer her (voluntary? contractual?) services to a lesbian pair.
Let's be honest, here: religious freedom, as far as gay rights activists are concerned, means only that you have the right to go to your place of worship and pray and worship there. It does not mean that you have the right to live as though you actually believed any of the things your church, synagogue, temple, or mosque actually teaches. Anyone who dares to try to do that in a post-gay marriage state will be branded a bigot by the full voice of the government, and punished accordingly.
Which is one reason why religious exemptions aren't worth the paper they are written on; they are a mere tactic to force the pro-gay agenda, and will be revoked as soon as is convenient. What the government gives, the government can take away. And a government which has defined all opposition to gay marriage and the grave moral evil of gay sex acts as bigotry will not hesitate to impose that view, by force if necessary.
UPDATE: Here's an example of the way religious believers who oppose gay "marriage" are treated already. Imagine how much worse it will be when the government is the one punishing thought crimes.