The gay community appears to be balking at individual exemptions. Nice analysis of the political considerations facing Republicans:
New York’s gay marriage law remains stuck in the Republican-controlled state Senate, where legislators are considering the law’s potential impact on religious groups – and, some analysts say, their own political fortunes.
... The state law bars discrimination based on sexual orientation, but makes certain exceptions for religious institutions. If the marriage law expanded the exemptions to include individuals or businesses, the law would be seriously weakened, says Susan Sommer, director of constitutional litigation for Lambda Legal, which supports same-sex marriage.
“This would be a rollback on civil rights, setting us back decades,” she says.
... Republican senators – the majority of whom oppose the bill – may have real moral concerns about gay marriage, but they also may have used the debate about the exemption language to let them avoid bringing the controversial measure to a vote, Professor Benjamin says.
“I think, at bottom, they’d prefer not to act, and they’d like to find reasons not to act,” says Benjamin.
Part of their reluctance may stem from threats by conservative groups to punish any Republicans who support the bill. The state’s Conservative Party, which makes influential endorsements, threatened to oppose Republicans who vote for the bill.