The American southwestern state of Arizona narrowly missed being lumped together with Uganda, Nigeria and Russia, among other places as co-capitals of the homophobic world. On Wednesday, Governor Jan Brewer vetoed a bill that would have allowed any restaurant owner or shopkeeper to ban gay citizens from their premises, if serving them would have violated the proprietor's religious precepts.
The bill had passed both houses of the state's legislature before being vetoed. What is going on out there anyway? J. BROOKS SPECTOR looks more closely at developments and the larger social context.
It seems it was a near-run thing in the end for Arizona and America. And despite it being legislation in one state that would almost inevitably have been overturned once it reached the courts, it certainly had to potential to deliver a stunning black eye to America's reputation internationally - just as the world is focusing closely on homophobic legislation and similar actions in a number of other nations.
Yes, Arizona's out in the west, and that solitary, fix-things-by-the-code-of-the-west, Marlboro Man, John Wayne style still resonates with many there. Arizona is one of the most reliably Republican voting states in the country, it is home to rallies worth...