Annise Parker made history Saturday as Houston’s first openly gay mayor. Parker, who served five years as city controller, beat former city attorney Gene Locke with 53.6 percent of the vote in a runoff election. Both are Democrats who faced off for the second time because neither emerged with more than 50 percent of the vote in the November 3 election.
Parker’s election also makes her the second woman to become mayor of Houston. Other cities such as Providence, Rhode Island, and Portland, Oregon, have picked openly gay mayors. Houston is the fourth-largest U.S. city. Parker’s victory is also remarkable because a few years ago, Houston rejected a referendum to offer benefits to same-sex partners of city workers. Also, the city sits in a state where gay marriage is against the law.
Read more here. I think it’s fascinating that a city can vote to deny same sex partners of city workers the same benefits their heterosexual counterparts have, but they can have an openly gay woman lead them as mayor. It would be interesting to know what were some of the reasons why voters rejected the referendum. Why could they overlook the issue of sexual orientation in this election, but not when it came to extending benefits to same sex partners of city employees?