Houston picks conservative Annise Parker as mayor, first lesbian to head a major American city
The city of Houston, Texas appears to have elected its first gay mayor.
The new mayor is Annise Parker, currently the 53-year-old city controller.
In a light turnout and a relatively close runoff, she defeated local attorney Gene Locke with about 53% of the vote with not quite all ballots in.
Parker becomes the second woman to become mayor of Houston and the first lesbian to head a major American city. Houston is the fourth largest U.S. city.
Parker neither proclaimed nor sought to hide her sexual orientation and ran on a platform of firm fiscal conservatism and her long experience in urban financial matters.
Locke sought to distance himself from a last-minute anti-gay campaign that did not work.
Late Saturday night Parker appeared with her partner, Kathy Hubbard, at an election night rally and told supporters:
I know what this means to many of us who thought we couldn't achieve higher office.
But let us at this moment join as one community. We are united in making Houston the city it should be, could be, can be and will be.
Parker succeeds Bill White, who is term-limited and is seeking the Texas governor's office next year. She will take office in early January.
We have an updated national look at 2009 in gay politics available by clicking here.
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Photo: Pat Sullivan / Associated Press