Lesbian City Controller Annise Parker defeated former City Attorney Gene Locke, an African American, in the Houston mayoral election Saturday night, making the Texas city the largest in the nation to ever have an openly gay mayor.
"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,” Parker told supporters after Locke conceded defeat. “That's what my administration will be about."
Parker got 53 percent of the more than 152,000 residents who turned out to cast ballots in Houston, the fourth largest U.S. city.
The election was one of the most divisive in city history, as anti-gay rhetoric blazed across the city. Locke, who had distanced himself from such rhetoric, was accused of financing some of the literature that questioned his opponent’s moral character.
On Saturday, Locke, 61, congratulated Parker, saying it was time for healing and progress. If he had been elected, he would have become the city’s second Black mayor. "Here's what our city needs now: It needs unity. It needs us to come together and heal like we've never healed before, and to move forward under a new administration," he said.
Parker, 53, received support from gay and lesbian organizations from throughout the United States.