Annise Parker's comfortable rise to mayor is drawing attention from national news outlets who are noting the significance of the nation's fourth largest city making history by electing an openly gay leader.
The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor and MSNBC, for instance, emphasized that Parker won the race in a state that outlawed gay marriage and in a city that defeated a referendum granting benefits to same-sex partners of city workers.
With Parker winning nearly 53 percent of the vote late Saturday, Houston became the largest city to elect an openly gay mayor. Others include Cambridge, Mass., Portland, Ore., and Providence R.I.
From The Christian Science Monitor: “The distinction neatly sums up the American mood. As gays and lesbians become broadly accepted in society and politics, that acceptance is marked by a firm boundary beyond which voters do not yet appear willing to cross: same-sex marriage.”
Parker's sexual orientation became an issue in the final stretch of the race, after anti-gay activists and conservative religious groups endorsed Parker's opponent, 61-year-old Gene Locke, and sent out mailers condemning Parker's sexual orientation.
The New York Times, which started following how Parker's sexuality was playing out politically in October, described her win a “milestone for gay men and lesbians around the country.”
In a post-election piece, the Times presented Parker as a charming victor who throughout the campaign tried unsuccessfully to stay away from discussing her sexuality, instead focusing on her accomplishments.
Bloomberg.com pointed out that Parker highlighted her sexual orientation in her victory speech and opened the door to her personal life, quoting Parker: “This election has changed the world for the lesbian, gay and transgendered community, just as it is about transforming the lives of all Houstonians for the better,” Parker told supporters last night before introducing “the person who has shared my life for more than 19 years.”
Earlier this year, the second most populous county in Florida, Broward, where Fort Lauderdale is based, selected as its Mayor, Kenneth Keechl.