This week The Washington Post highlighted plans by conservative lawmakers in several states to push to expand rights to discriminate against same-sex couples by empowering individuals and businesses to refuse service to gays.
This is happening. In 2014 (nearly 2015). In America.
A state legislator in North Carolina is proposing a bill that allows "government workers to recuse themselves from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples," despite the fact that such unions are now legal in the state.
A group of state congressmen in Texas is preparing a bill "to protect Texas business owners from unconstitutional infringements on their religious liberty" -- widely expected to entail measures that threaten the civil rights of gay Texans. Others in the Texas legislature are working to amend the constitution to effectively make LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinances unenforceable by the cities that have adopted them.
In Michigan the State House has just passed a set of its own highly controversial "religious liberty" bills, including one allowing adoption agencies to refuse placements to couples if it is "in violation of their faith." Not difficult to read between the lines on that one.
While same-sex couples now have their right to marry enshrined in law in 35 states, this renewed wave of discriminatory and bigoted moves serves as a poignant reminder of how far we have yet to go.
Before we can consider our society and our political leadership to be "progressive" -- and certainly before we are in any position to point the finger at other governments of the world that are also moving too slowly toward progress -- we must take a realistic look at where we are on this issue. We need to read the fine print.
Despite the strides the LGBT community has made in recent years, bigotry and ignorance toward gays is alive and well in America, as evidenced by what's occurring on the floors of our capitol buildings.
And this is why I've grown frustrated with the battle cries against Uganda's government. My frustration goes far beyond the points I made in a recent HuffPost blog post on the hypocrisy of decrying Uganda's policies while turning a blind eye to other offenders around the world. What tests my patience, what troubles me beyond all else, is our propensity for pointing the finger at others while ignoring our own flaws.
The truth is that the United States is not yet at a point where it can self-righteously condemn others for their intolerance toward LGBT people, at least not with a straight face.
Someday we will get there, and we will lead by example. But not today.