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December 18, 2009
Annise Parker beats anti-gay attacks to win Houston mayor race
Houston--Voters on December 12 made this city the second-largest in the world with an openly gay mayor, handing former city controller Annise Parker 53.6 percent of the mayoral vote in a runoff election.
Houston also became the largest city in the United States with an out mayor.
Parker ran on a platform of relatively conservative fiscal responsibility, but anti-gay advocates launched a series of attacks against her, alleging that she would use the office to push through a series of pro-gay ordinances.
Parker, 53, faced fellow Democrat Gene Locke, 61, in the run-off when neither garnered over 50 percent of the vote in the general election in November.
Locke promised to lower the crime rate and increase the size of the police force, while Parker noted that her experience as controller made her more qualified to lead in tough economic times.
Locke, who is black, enjoyed the support of the city’s African American clergy, some of whom accused Parker of having a “gay agenda.”
Other anti-Parker activists send out fliers pointing to her 19-year relationship and her support from LGBT organizations.
Locke denied involvement with the mailers, but $40,000 in funding for them was traced to two members of his finance committee.
After the results, Locke called for unity and reconciliation.
“We have to all work together to bring our city closer and closer together,” he said, according to the New York Times.
“Tonight, the voters of Houston have opened the door to history,” Parker said. “I acknowledge that. I embrace that. I know what this win means to many of us who never thought we could achieve high office.”
She was joined onstage by her partner, Kathy Hubbard, and their three adopted children.
Her election drops Paris and its mayor, Bertrand Delanoë, down to third in rankings of cities with gay or lesbian mayors. The largest city with a gay mayor is still Berlin, helmed by Klaus Wowereit.
The second-largest U.S. city with a gay mayor is Portland, Oregon.
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