carew28 said Here in the U.S.A. most national progressive civil rights legislation took place in the 1960s and 1970s. Since then, most civil rights legislation has been enacted at the State level, where things happen much more slowly. Some states are very culturally progressive in the line of civil-rights, others are more backwards and slow to accept any sort of change. And some of the recent legislation has actually been anti-gay. Even some of the national legislation, such as DOMA, has actually been anti-civil-rights. There are exceptions to this though, such as the recent legislation giving gays full rights in military service (repealling "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"). Although when it was first put in place maybe 15 years ago or so, "Don't Ask,Don't Tell" was meant to be supportive of gays, repealling the old military code of conduct that made being gay a dischargeable offense.
Just guessing, but maybe in the U.K. legislation probably comes from the top down, in other words from the national level down to the local level, so it's maybe more progressive at the current time.
I agree that there are many parts of the U.S.A. that are culturally different. However, even though there are very liberal parts of the country, media representations of gay people have not always been complementary. As much as Hollywood supports the cause for equality, their primary interest has always been money and appealing to the majority.
I believe that social change always precedes any meaningful legislation. There are many turning points in our recent history such as the AIDS epidemic which helped put a spotlight on us. However, this also brought on the bigots in full force who used it to declare it gods punishment. For all the good we have done, there are still many Americans who feel that coming out would hurt their career or relationship prospects.
I really feel that in order for the culture to change, we will need a lot more straight allies to fight for our cause and for their to be more realistic and positive representations of gay people in the mainstream media. I was shocked how so many English musical artists (most of who are straight) play up to their gay fanbase when so much of that wouldn't fly over here.