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N.M. Gov. Susana Martinez responds to gay hair stylist's protest

February 23, 2012|By Ashley Powers
  • New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, cutting a cake during a birthday party for the state in Santa Fe, has worked a hair stylist into a lather.
New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, cutting a cake during a birthday party… (Eddie Moore / Albuquerque…)

The spat between New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and a Santa Fe hair stylist has gotten as ugly as – dare we say it? – a lousy haircut.

Earlier this week, KOB-TV ran an interview with Antonio Darden, who has cut the Republican governor’s hair a handful of times. Darden, who is gay, announced he would never do so again unless Martinez dropped her opposition to gay marriage.

The spectacle of the stylist's protest worked the Internet into, well, a lather. (The story lends itself to all sorts of goofy puns.)

So Martinez’s office spent Thursday fighting back.

A few months ago, Martinez needed a haircut on short notice, spokesman Greg Blair told The Times in an email. One of her staffers called about half a dozen hair stylists, including Darden, before finding one who could fit her in. At the time, Darden didn’t utter a word about gay marriage, Blair said.

That changed in recent weeks, when Darden left a voice mail that the governor’s office released to reporters Thursday. In it, Darden appears to have recently learned that Martinez opposed gay marriage, and said he was “upset and distraught” over her stance.

Then Darden mentioned a recent controversy in which a Democratic lawmaker referred to Martinez as “the Mexican” for whom a colleague had been “carrying water.” (The lawmaker later apologized.)

“I do believe the comment about ‘taking the Mexican some water’ was appropriate, since she wants to be attacking the gay people,” Darden said in the message. “You may pass this on and let her listen to it. And, Susana, if you are listening to it, shame on you.

“I am going to let all gay people know,” he continued, “stop serving you, stop providing you with what you need.”

It’s unclear what prompted Darden’s phone call. Perhaps it was the flurry of recent headlines about gay marriage: Washington state recently joined six states and the District of Columbia in recognizing same-sex unions, while lawmakers in New Jersey and Maryland have considered such measures. 

In New Mexico, which does not permit gay marriage, Martinez recently took heat from social conservatives for appointing an openly gay man to the state’s Public Regulation Commission.

“The governor has been very clear that she does not support gay marriage,” Blair said, “but does believe that all people should be judged on their merits and not discriminated against.”

In case you’re wondering, Martinez’s layered bob won't go untrimmed. Darden is not her regular stylist, Blair said. And her office has received calls from at least 10 stylists this week offering their hair-cutting services.

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