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.
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.