Only two weeks after being elected to serve his fourth term, Mayor J.W. Lown of San Angelo submitted his resignation letter Tuesday from an undisclosed location in Mexico.
No, being mayor of San Angelo is not exactly the same as being the King of the United Kingdom and Emperor of India, but the reason for Lown’s abdication is the same as Edward’s.
What made it stunning wasn’t the status of Lown’s office, which pays $600 a year, but the status of his lover.
Lown fell for an illegal Mexican immigrant.
Lown told the San Angelo Standard-Times he had fallen for the man in March, after he had already filed for re-election. The man came to the U.S. five years ago to study at Angelo State University.
It was unclear whether he had a student visa, but if he did it apparently had expired.
Lown told the Standard-Times he chose not to take the oath of office while “aiding and assisting” a person who was illegally in the country.
Lown had been an extraordinarily popular mayor. Only 32 years old, he was elected in 2003 as the city’s youngest mayor. Serving in an office that inevitably requires decisions that accumulate enemies, he managed to get re-elected three times with increasing margins of victory each time. Two weeks ago he defeated two challengers by garnering 89 percent of the vote.
Lown did not give the name of his lover, but said he planned to stay in Mexico to try to obtain a visa so that his partner can return with him if “the people of San Angelo will welcome me back.”
It could be a long wait. According to former Houston city councilman Gordon Quan, an immigration lawyer, Lown’s partner faces two problems in seeking a visa that would permit residency in the U.S.
One involves restrictions caused by his having been in the United States illegally. If he had a student visa and overstayed it more than six months but less than a year, he is not eligible for a visa for three years. If it was more than a year, he must wait 10 years, even for a tourist visa.
The other problem, said Quan, is that he would require a blood relative or a spouse to sponsor him.
And it wouldn’t matter if Lown went to Iowa and married his partner by proxy. The federal government doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages for immigration purposes.
King Edward, who became Prince Edward, lived the remainder of his life in exile. Lown may face the same fate if he stays with his partner.
For some this will be a story of sinful deviance.
Some will sigh at the power of love.
As someone who has closely observed politicians for many years, what I see is the rare integrity of a politician who couldn’t rationalize his way to swearing to uphold the laws of his state and nation while breaking them.
When it comes to sex, we’ve seen the president of the United States lie under oath, the governor of New Jersey provide a high-level job for his unqualified secret gay lover, the governor of New York frequent a high-priced prostitute.
The mayor of San Angelo chose not only love, but also honesty.