A few weeks ago I’d have told you that on the subject of equal rights for gays and lesbians — arguably the civil rights issue of our day — I was feeling pretty proud of my country. Gay equality is supported by swelling majorities in polls, especially among young Americans. We had an election in which, for the first time, voters in four states embraced equal marriage rights (which, let’s be honest, is a proxy for equal citizenship). We have a president who says that families with homosexual parents are entitled to the same legal status and dignity as his own. I had a heartening sense of things turning right side up. But a few conversations during my wanderings in South Africa have shaken my sense of satisfaction and made me rethink my standard of progress. Follow along, and see if you agree. The very week the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear two cases that may help resolve America’s legal ambivalence on the subject of same-sex marriage, I paid a visit to the South African Constitutional Court to have lunch with Edwin Cameron.