Houston Elects First Lesbian Mayor in Bruising Gay Hate Runoff Race

December 13, 2009

(ChattahBox)—Annise Parker, Houston’s city controller and long-time City Council member, won a hotly contested runoff race for Mayor on Saturday, beating out fellow Democrat Gene Locke, a former city attorney. Both candidates were viewed by liberal Democrats as fiscally conservative moderates. And one candidate was African American and the other a woman. But what set this mayoral race apart from others is Parker’s sexual identity.

She is openly gay in a stable relationship with two adopted children. Parker, 53, worked hard over the years to build a solid resume and she never made gay rights activism a feature of her rise in Houston politics. That is, until supporters of Locke made it an issue, by distributing offensive anti-gay mailers. But Locke, 61, couldn’t generate enough gay hate in Houston. And the voters chose Parker, as the better candidate making her sexual orientation a non-issue, electing the city’s first openly gay mayor. Is this election a sign that our country is becoming more accepting of gay political candidates? Maybe.

Parker’s win puts Houston, Texas in the record books, as the first major US city to elect an openly gay mayor. She overwhelmingly defeated Locke with 53.6 percent of the vote, in a race with a low turnout of only 16.5 percent of Houston voters.

Parker touched upon her sexual identity in her victory speech on Saturday. “This election has changed the world for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community. Just as it is about transforming the lives of all Houstonians for the better, and that’s what my administration will be about,” Parker told supporters.

Houston is strongly Democratic, with a diverse population of about 25 percent black and one-third Hispanic residents. About 60,000 Houstonians identify themselves as gay or lesbian.

Locke, although he distanced himself from the anti-gay mailers, gamely sought to make Parker’s sexual identity an issue in the waning days of the race, as a last ditch effort to gain conservative Republican votes.

Two of Locke’s top supporters contributed $20,000 each to an anti-gay, right-wing political action committee. The PAC sent out a gay hate mailer, with a photo of Parker and her female partner, with the headline: “Is this the image Houston wants to portray? A second mailer urged voters to reject Parker, because she was represented the “gay and lesbian political caucus.”

Parker responded, by sending out mailers attacking Locke for his work as an attorney representing corporate interests and lobbyists. Given the choice, Houston voters chose the lesbian candidate over a corporate establishment attorney.

After conceding defeat, Locke issued a statement calling for unity. “Here’s what our city needs now: It needs unity. It needs us to come together and heal like we’ve never healed before, and to move forward under a new administration,” said Locke.

The low voter turnout, the non-partisan nature of the runoff race and predominantly Democratic voters, were unique factors in Houston’s mayoral race. But gay-hate did not decide this election, which is encouraging.



2 Responses to “Houston Elects First Lesbian Mayor in Bruising Gay Hate Runoff Race”

  1. Kay Lisiecki on December 13th, 2009 1:03 pm

    I think it’s awesome and right on time with the times.We have the first black President in the White House why shouldn’t there be lesbian in a Mayoral Office,she has already maintained a stable relationship and adopted two children,how easy could that be,maybe everyone should start giving her kudo’s instead of budo’s.

  2. sex toys shop on December 13th, 2009 10:08 pm

    god her sexual identity in her victory speech on Saturday

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