On March 21, Stuart Craig Lowe – the first openly gay mayor of Gainesville, Florida – was arrested under the suspicion of driving under the influence. According to a Florida Highway Patrol arrest report, Lowe crashed his 2005 Honda Civic in northeast Alachua County a little after 2am.
Lowe, who was elected mayor in a runoff election in 2010, received 50.17% of the votes, while his competitor, Don Marsh, received 49.83%.
The crash, which authorities have said occurred around 2:20AM, left his car with four flat tires and major damage to the front. According to FHP, Lowe registered a .069 and .061 on a blood-alcohol test performed four hours after the crash. He pleaded not guilty to charges of driving under the influence and careless driving.
Although relatively small, with around 125,000 residents, Gainesville is popular with the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. In 2010, when Lowe was elected mayor, The Advocate ranked the city of Gainesville, Florida as the “11th gayest city in the United States.” Though Lowe was elected with little controversy in 2010, there was a some backlash due to his homosexuality, especially among the conservative community.
A Florida church wasn’t too impressed. On their website, the Dove World Outreach Center, wrote, “”What is homosexuality? Detestable, indecent, wicked, offensive, perverted, shameful, unnatural, degrading, impure, futile, foolish, godless, dishonorable, a lie…We protest sexual perversion because the Bible protests it. Family, community and national leaders should also protest it, stay away from it, flee from it. What is acceptable to today’s leadership becomes acceptable to tomorrow’s society. We, as Christians, will fight for the truth of the Word of God. When Jesus came, he no longer supported the death penalty for these sins, but the wickedness of the acts remain wicked and a serious problem for society.”
The Friday afternoon following his arrest, the mayor issued the following statement:
“After the events of the past 24 hours, I have determined that the best course of action, both as an elected official and personally, is to accept responsibility for my actions in getting behind the wheel of a vehicle after having consumed alcohol, regardless of blood-alcohol level.”
According to Mugshots.com, Lowe was cited for DUI and property damage and was left ”unsentenced.”
Lowe went on to say that he would remain in the current election of mayor of Gainesville: ”I will accept the consequences of my actions and face the sanctions that are deemed appropriate by the State Attorney and/or the Court. I will submit to an alcohol abuse evaluation and abide by any recommendations necessary to assure both myself and the public that this type of conduct does not recur. Over the next few days and weeks, I will continue to perform my duties as Mayor and work hard as a candidate for re-election.”
The crash occurred two days after a March 2013 runoff election for Lowe and Ed Braddy, who, ironically, was charged with a DUI while serving as a Gainesville City Commissioner in 2006. On April 1, Mayor Lowe accepted a plea deal, which will not result in his DUI case going to trial.
While some cities and areas are quick to jump on LGBT politicians, it seems like Gainesville was pretty mild in their treatment of the mayor. “The City of Gainesville is aware of media reports regarding the Florida Highway Patrol investigation of the single vehicle accident involving Gainesville Mayor Craig Lowe. The immediate concern is the mayor’s well-being. We are continuing to monitor events and will have no further comment on the circumstances related to the incident or the incident itself until the Florida Highway Patrol completes its investigation and official report,” read a statement given by the city of Gainesville.
According to WCJB-TV, “some of the stipulations of the deal include 50 hours of community service, completing DUI school, an alcohol abuse evaluation, and suspension of his drivers license for 14 days.”
If Lowe does not comply with the rules, he will face court.
There are only a handful of openly gay mayors in the United States.
In 1982, Bob Gentry was elected as the first gay in America in Laguna Beach, California.
Annise Parker, elected the mayor of Houston, Texas in 2010, is one of the first openly gay mayors of a major U.S. city, thus making Houston the largest city in America with a gay mayor.
Jeffrey Hartinger is a writer who lives in New York City. You can visit his website at www.thewhygenerationusa.blogspot.com
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