In politics, love can be problematic. (Just ask South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford.) Add being openly gay to the mix and problems can become scandals. But something odd happened when the mayor of San Angelo, Texas followed his gay heart.
J. W. Lown absconded to Mexico to be with his same-sex lover, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico. But where one would have expected to find fiery outrage, there was a surprsing calm, according to Texas Monthly.
(A) funny thing was happening on the way to the News of the Weird section. Though San Angelo found itself squarely in the role of jilted bride stranded at the altar, the city did not respond with outrage, homophobic or otherwise. As comments leaped to the San Angelo Standard-Times Web site, a kinder sentiment emerged: “My sincere wishes for peace are with J. W.” “Just pray whoever takes his place does as good a job as he has. I really liked him.” And the posts came in a proportion that matched Lown’s 89 percent share of the electorate (he had won) just ten days before. To be sure, the citizenry was upset to have been left in a mayorless lurch, and the suddenness of his departure was characterized as unfortunate in the charitable posts. But as for the presumably salacious elements of the story, local lawyer Greg Gossett, a board member of an evangelical missionary group called the Gospel Vision Foundation—and, by the way, the treasurer for each of Lown’s campaigns—referred to the city’s response in an interview with the Texas Observer as “a big yawn.”
Perhaps his constituents didn’t fault Lown because the elopement was only necessary due to the restrictive nature of federal marriage and immigration laws. Lown had no recourse to keep his partner in the United States, unlike similarly smitten straight couples who can marry and earn U.S. citizenship for their partners.
Lown has stated that he would have no issue with being San Angelo’s gay mayor, but that the simple truths of U.S. laws couldn’t allow him to keep his job and his partner – so he went with his heart.
Who could fault him?