J.W. Lown, mayor of the west Texas city of San Angelo, has resigned in order to be with his partner, a Mexican national who does not currently have legal status in the United States. According to the San Angelo Standard-Times:
Lown said in a telephone call late Wednesday afternoon from Mexico that he has started a relationship with someone who does not have legal status in the United States. Lown said he did not want to take the oath of office knowing he was “aiding and assisting” someone who was not a citizen. “I made the final decision when I knew it was the right decision to make for me and my partner and our future – and for the community,” he said.
The mayor was about to take the oath of office for the start of his fourth term, which he won earlier this month in a landslide election. If he had completed his fourth two-year term, he would have tied for being the longest serving mayor of San Angelo.
Lown and his partner are in Mexico awaiting a visa to come back legally. Their wait may be a very long one.
This is not an unusual problem. Under current U.S. law, American citizens can legally bring their foreign spouses and other immediate family members into the United States. But same-sex partners of U.S. citizens and permanent residents are not considered spouses — even if they are married in a state or country which allows same-sex marriage. That means countless gay and lesbian, bi-national couples are forced to remain apart unless the American partner decides to move in order to join his or her partner.
The Uniting American Families Act is intended to address the problem by allowing U.S. citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their same-sex partners for family-based immigration purposes. UAFA was introduced in Congress by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY).
Lown has dual American and Mexican citizenship. In a statement to the city council, Lown said he and his partner will come back to San Angelo once his partner obtains a visa and if “the people of San Angelo will welcome me back.” If the comments to the San Angelo Standard-Times are any indication, it appears that a very large number of San Angelinos are willing to welcome the popular mayor back with open arms.