Gay Hairdresser Refuses to Do Governor’s Hair Because She Opposes Gay Marriage

Governor NewMexico

NM Governor Susana Martinez, with two flags and her hair.  

I slipped away from the grind to have an itty bitty medical procedure today. It was nothing serious; just one of those things you sometimes have to do.

When I woke from the anesthesia, got a bit ungrogged and checked my email, I thought at first that the Onion had hacked The Anchoress’ blog. I found my fearless leader intoning on what may be the winner of the Most Absurd News Story Rolling Around the Internet Contest. These events actually occurred about a year ago, but are getting noticed now.

It seems that Antonio Darden, a gay hairdresser in oh-so-chi-chi Santa Fe, declined to cut Governor Susana Martinez’s hair because she opposes gay marriage and he had decided in his little church of one that he would violate his moral beliefs to continue as her hairdresser.

The governor, in a moment of startling sanity, just rang up someone else and got them to do her hair.

Because, you see, it turns out the Mr Darden is not the only hairdresser in New Mexico.

And this is not about segregation, slavery, lynchings or basic human rights.

Everybody’s free here to do what they want. And that’s as it should be.

Aside from the governor’s commonsense response, there is a serious point in all this silliness that I would like to make. I’m turning off the laugh track for a moment because I want Public Catholic readers to understand the issues here.

When people refuse to provide wedding cakes, flowers and photos for gay weddings because they feel that it would violate their faith and place them in the position of being cooperators with sin, they are acting in response to two-thousand-year-old teachings. They are following the dictates of legitimate churches which have existed far longer than this Republic. They are, in short, exercising their First Amendment rights to be exempted from an activity on the basis of personal conscience and religious faith.

An important point is that none of these things are essential services, such as say, police, fire protection or emergency health care.

Even though cakes and flowers do not rise to the level of warfare (cough) the underlying principles of the issue make it analogous with conscientious objectors in time of war. This country’s historic respect for religious belief applies even in times of war, when those whose faith requires it are either exempted from military service altogether or placed in non-combatant positions.

I have a personal friend who took personal conscience exemption during the Vietnam War based on his belief that it was morally wrong to kill another person. I also knew a number of Mennonite boys who did the same thing.

The hairdresser’s pique is simply a personal political statement. He’s free to make it, and I’m glad the governor “gets” that.

I’ve known hairdressers who refused to cut hair for people for lots of reasons.

If one of the pazillion hairdressers in New Mexico doesn’t want to cut your hair, then you probably don’t want him or her to be whacking at your hair, anyway.

This won’t go on too long, or be carried too far, for the simple reason that hairdressers, gay or otherwise, have gotta eat. If they refuse service to everyone who doesn’t agree with their politics concerning an issue like gay marriage (on either side of the question), then they’ll end up reducing their business, and their income, by half. They will also increase their competitor’s business by that same half.

If that’s what they want to do, I say go for it. It is, as they say, a free country.

From MSNBC:

By msnbc.com staffA Santa Fe hairdresser is waging his own boycott of sorts: He is denying service to the governor of New Mexico because she opposes gay marriage.
Antonio Darden, who has been with his partner for 15 years, said he made his views clear the last time Gov. Susana Martinez’s office called to make an appointment.”The governor’s aides called not too long ago wanting another appointment to come in,”
Darden told KOB.com. “Because of her stances and her views on this, I told her aides, ‘no.’ They called the next day asking if I’d changed my mind about taking the governor in, and I said ‘no’ again.”Martinez has said marriage should be between a man and a woman.
Darden, who said he has cut the governor’s hair three times, said he won’t serve her unless she changes her mind about gay marriage.”If I’m not good enough to be married, I’m not going to cut her hair,” Darden toldThe New Mexican on Wednesday.”I think it’s just equality, dignity for everyone,” he told KOB.com. “I think everybody should be allowed the right to be together.”

Scott Darnell, a spokesman for Martinez, said: “The governor has been very clear that she does not support gay marriage but does believe that all people should be judged on their merits and not discriminated against.” 
He noted that Darden was not her usual hairdresser and that following reports of his decision, the governor’s office got calls from more than 10 salons on Wednesday saying they’d be “happy to cut the governor’s hair,” Darnell told The New Mexican.

  • Dave

    No, this cannot be! The hairdresser must be SUED to FORCE her to cut the governor’s hair – either that or fine her out of existence! Who cares that there are 100 other possible hairdressers? She is being discriminated against simply because of her beliefs and actions. If she has a business as a hairdresser, she must serve ANY customer that walks in. Bigot!

    • Gordis85

      LOL…I was shocked beyond shocked at the hairdresser’s indignation…whatever.
      Good for Gov. Martinez! Glad she is standing firm and not buckling to the pressures these “folks” are trying to put us all under.

  • Timothy Kincaid

    That story is a year or so old. Maybe more. Yawn.

    • hamiltonr

      Good catch! I didn’t realize this. I just picked it up from The Anchoress, who also blogged about it today. In my defense, I can honestly say that I was drugged at the time. :-) However, despite the dateline, it’s still pertinent to current events.

      I went back and added a sentence relating this fact. Thanks for the heads up.

  • ahermit

    The difference is that he is declining her custom because she is treating him like dirt, not because of her gender, race, religion or sexual orientation. It’s a case of her personal behaviour towards him, not arbitrary discrimination based on her membership in some group.

    No one is obligated to serve customers who are rude or disrespectful or insist on treating you like a second class citizen.

    • hamiltonr

      Did he say she was rude or hateful? I doubt that very much. She has a political opinion that differs from his. That’s what he says, you know. Also, and just for the record, this same governor is taking heat from some quarters because she appointed an openly gay man to a prominent position in the state.

      • ahermit

        A political opinion which leads her to support policies which personally disadvantage him.

        I’d say that’s rude at the very least…

        • hamiltonr

          If he doesn’t want to cut her hair, that’s fine. It’s his right.

          The attempts — and I’ve deleted dozens of comments calling her names — to excoriate the governor (who I do not know) personally because she has a political opinion that differs from yours is about you and your lack of proportion, not her.

        • Katherine Harms

          Barack Obama supports a lot of policies which personally disadvantage me. I’m glad you agree that such behavior is rude at the very least.

    • http://www.subcreators.com/blog Lori Pieper

      How exactly did she “treat him like dirt”? By giving him her business and asking him to cut her hair? That’s really rude all right. I don’t know how he could stand it!

  • Brandon AKA WILD-MAN

    Oh the Liberal “Tolerance”! The Liberals and gays have a duck fit if a private business refuses to bake them a wedding cake or serve them, yet if a gay refuses service to a straight person the Liberal silence is deafening.

    • FW Ken

      Technically, it’s not because she’s straight, but because she doesn’t accept same-sex marriage. Just as marriage service providers don’t deny their services because the principals are gay, but because they don’t accept same-sex marriage.

  • Norman Dostal

    I LOVE seeing these religious bigots wail and gnash their teeth as they die off-these are their final days-praise GOd

  • Dale

    This happened two years ago. I am not sure why it has suddenly become a topic of conversation again, but I see it mentioned across the conservative blogosphere. As near as I can tell, both the hairdresser and the governor have moved on with their lives.

    Of course, what he did was petty. And, it was self-defeating. If he really wanted to influence the governor’s opinion, he could have befriended her and talked with her about how his life is affected by the lack of same-sex marriage. In other words, establish the sort of personal relationship which hairstylists are famous. But, instead, he chose to throw that away for a 15 seconds of fame.

    • hamiltonr

      Good catch Dale. I answered another commenter about this. I saw the Anchoress was writing about it and went with it. As I told the other commenter, I truly was drugged at the time. And yes, I do think it’s pertinent to current discussions.

      I went back and added a sentence to the effect that the story is about a year old. Thanks for the heads up.

    • http://wonderwheels.blogspot.com/ Gregory Wonderwheel

      The story has resurfaced because of the recent Arizona law that Governor Jan Brewer vetoed.

  • Paul Skeptic

    Oh, to be in England where none of this crap matters anymore.

    • hamiltonr

      Delta is ready when you are.

      • Paul Skeptic

        Thankfully, I’m already here. :-)
        Reading these sorts of stories from the USA just damages the whole notion that living there is something to be aspired to. From this side of the pond it’s another facepalm moment. We got past all of this nonsense many years ago.

        • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

          Paul Stupid: perhaps the herd instinct of the English is part of the reason why England is in the condition it’s in. And as I live here, you can save yourself your bigoted little rants at Americans. The fact that you cannot discuss the basics of society in this country is nothing to be proud of; it proves – if the caliber of politicians you elect, media you read, and people you follow, did not do so already – that you are dead from the neck up.

          • pesq87

            Paul Stupid? Seriously? I’ve said before you’re unreasonably impolite. I don’t know why she suffers you.

            • hamiltonr

              Poiint taken: Fabio, do not call people names.

              • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

                He signs himself Paul Skeptic. I replace one adjective with another – one more suited, in my view. I have to deal with narrow-minded, provincial, ignorant Englishmen who think they know everything every day of the week, and quite frankly sometimes I feel bound to explain what they look like to me.

                • hamiltonr

                  Don’t name call Fabio.

        • Steve Jones

          England is a has-been nation that no longer matters,we are on our way but England is there and has been for decades

  • Bill S

    I think what the hairdresser did was wrong but it probably increased his business. All people need to have a sense of common decency and go with it. If they did, all businesses would serve the public and no one would discriminate against anyone whether it be for sexual orientation or political views.

  • http://wonderwheels.blogspot.com/ Gregory Wonderwheel

    I was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam conflict, and I faced trial and imprisonment. Fortunately I had a strong case and the SSS never prosecuted me. But in WWII COs were imprisoned, and in WWI COs were executed in Europe to make an example of them. So let’s not trivialize the refusal to be drafted into war by equating it with the refusal to cut someone’s hair.
    Also, let’s not equate the refusal of a hair stylist to provide their particular service to a particular customer, with the refusal of a commercial public accommodation like a restaurant or hotel from serving customers. The two are not analogous before the law and the Constitution.

    • FW Ken

      Except that it’s not hotels or restaurants, it’s private businesses that provide professional services by their owners. It’s not Sam’s Club refusing to bake a cake.

    • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

      NO? Well, the law is an ass, and we have always known that.

  • http://mikeybear.wordpress.com Michael Barnett

    The point made here that the gay hairdresser refusing to provide a service to a person who wants to deny them the right to get married IS NOT the same argument as a religious baker who refuses to make a wedding cake for a gay couple simply because it contravenes their religious beliefs that homosexuality is sinful.

    The religious baker does not suffer because of the wishes for the gay couple to get married. The gay hairdresser suffers because of the position of the client who want to deny him the right to get married.

    • hamiltonr

      This is just blatant “it’s discrimination when you do it,” and “it’s a-ok when I the same thing.”

  • Anne Cregon Parks

    Amazing! Didn’t they just have a big drama in Arizona that said people could not refuse to participate in gay marriages, weddings, celebrations etc because of their belief. As usual, tolerance only goes one way.

    • John Macom

      except this is a debate regarding a politician. This is therefore not about her religious views but her stance as head of the state. If a gay politician was stating that all religious groups so be disbanded I think the religious folk could boycott that public figure

  • littleshell

    Hey that’s racist and It’s a war on women. It fosters income inequality too!

  • Kelly Wing

    This whole thing is stupid. Anybidy has the freedom to decide to enter into a contract or not, whether your a governor, hairstylist, baker, cake-buyer. This shouldn’t even be an issue.


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