HOUSTON – Annise Parker made history Saturday by becoming Houston’s first openly gay mayor, seizing 53.6 percent of the vote in a hotly contested election.
“This election has changed the world for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community. Just as it is about transforming the lives of all Houstonians for the better, and that’s what my administration will be about,” Parker told supporters after former city attorney Gene Locke conceded defeat.
The election battle leading up to Saturday’s balloting was marked by fierce campaigning and anti-gay rhetoric.
Parker is a lesbian who has never made a secret or an issue of her sexual orientation. But that orientation became the focus of the race after anti-gay activists and conservative religious groups endorsed the 61-year-old Locke and sent out mailers condemning Parker’s “homosexual behavior.”
Meanwhile, gay and lesbian political organizations nationwide rallied to support the 53-year-old Parker by raising money for her campaign and making calls urging people to vote.
Locke tried to distance himself from the anti-gay attacks while courting conservative voters.
Late Saturday, Locke offered his congratulations to Parker and urged the city to move on from its most recent battle.