Friday, November 18, 2011

Celebrity Friday: Annise Parker Easily Wins Re-election

Mayor Annise Parker, first openly gay chief executive of a major U.S. city
Annise Parker was easily re-elected to a second 2-year term as Mayor of Houston, Texas on Tuesday November 8. She gathered more than 50% of the vote in a 9-person field, thus avoiding a December run-off election. Two years ago, Parker made history when she became the first openly gay person to head a major United States city (Houston is the fourth largest city in the country).

The Advocate reports:

Parker, who received congratulatory calls Tuesday evening from Vice President Joseph Biden and Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, said that her reelection and the victories of many openly gay candidates nationwide last night indicate a trend toward greater acceptance of LGBT elected officials.
“That doesn’t mean it’s easy,” Parker said. “If the only thing [voters] know about you as a candidate is that you’re openly gay or lesbian, it’s a negative. But if it’s only one of a series of data points about you, then they can filter that along with all of the other points.” 

Despite a current approval rating that is the lowest of any Houston mayor in recent history, according to the Houston Chronicle, Parker has worked to extend LGBT rights in a city that continues to prohibit domestic-partner benefits for gay municipal employees — the result of a voter referendum several years ago. In 2010 she issued an executive nondiscrimination order inclusive of gender identity (sexual orientation had been covered in a previous policy order by former mayor Bill White).
Congratulations, Mayor Parker!

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