Openly lesbian Annise Parker is running
for mayor of Houston, Texas, the fourth largest city in the United
States. Portland is currently the largest U.S. city to be led by an
openly gay mayor, Sam Adams.
Should Parker ascend to the mayor's
office, the trip wouldn't take long. The fifty-three-year-old
currently serves as the city's second most powerful elected official:
“This is my city, my home,” Parker
told gay weekly SOVO.com
about why she aspires to become mayor.
“I love Houston and I think it's a
great city and a great place to live,” she added.
Parker's political resume includes a
lengthy section on gay and lesbian activism. She helped organize
Houston's early gay pride parades, served as president of the city's
Caucus, and acted as a liaison between the gay community and the
“[I] spent 10 years as the most
visible lesbian activist in Houston – in Texas – and I spent 10
years very active in civic clubs and on quality-of-life issues in
Houston,” Parker said. “At some point, I realized that I would
get more accomplished from the inside than the outside.”
It was heartbreak for Parker in 1991
when voters rejected her first bid for a seat on the city council and
a second 1995 bid. But Parker made history in 1997 as Houston's
first openly gay elected official. She served three terms as
councilwoman, then moved on to city controller in 2003.
“Houstonians know Annise Parker and
her commitment to the city and good government – so much so that
they've already elected her citywide six times,” Denis Dison, vice
president of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, a group that
promotes openly gay elected officials, told SOVO.com.
“She's the most experienced, most
well-known candidate in the race, but the anti-gay far right knows
this too, so we fully expect them to use her sexual orientation to
divide and distract the voters. We're preparing for that.”
Previous to holding elected office,
Parker worked in the oil and gas industry and co-owned a bookstore.
Along with her partner, Kathy Hubbard, the couple is raising two
adopted daughters and has also raised a foster son, who is now 32.
& Lesbian Victory Fund has endorsed Parker's candidacy for
mayor. So has the historic and powerful Houston
GLBT Political Caucus she once headed.
Parker's official candidacy begins
with a rally in front of City Hall at 11:45AM.