Houston elects first openly gay mayor

Staff And Wire Reports

Annise Parker, a lesbian who has never made a secret or an issue of her sexual orientation, on Saturday was elected mayor of Houston, the nation’s fourth-largest city.

With the victory, Parker, 53, will become the first openly gay mayor of such a large American city. The population of the Texas city is about 2.2 million.

Her victory comes two days after Democrats in California’s Assembly unanimously tapped John Perez of Los Angeles to be their speaker. He will be the first openly gay lawmaker to hold the powerful post.

With almost all of Houston’s 738 precincts reporting, Parker had 53% of the vote and Gene Locke 47%, according to the Harris County website.

The fiercely contested battle leading up to Saturday’s balloting was marked by anti-gay rhetoric. Locke, 61, condemned such tactics.

Meanwhile, gay and lesbian political organizations nationwide rallied to support Parker, the city controller.

Parker and Locke, both Democrats in the nonpartisan race, made it to the runoff after garnering more votes than two other candidates on Nov. 3.

Several smaller U.S. cities have openly gay mayors, including Portland, Ore.; Providence, R.I.; and Cambridge, Mass.