Houston: Annise Parker made history on Saturday by becoming Houston`s first openly gay mayor, seizing 53.6 percent of the vote in the city`s 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.
Of the more than 152,000 residents who turned out to cast ballots in the fourth largest US city on Saturday, 81,652 chose Parker — some 11,000 votes more than were placed for Locke.
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 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 behaviour”.
Meanwhile, gay and lesbian political organisations 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 who could tip the race in his favour.
Although Locke condemned the divisive rhetoric, two of his key supporters contributed money to a conservative political action committee that sent out an anti-gay mailer earlier this month, urging voters not to pick Parker because she was endorsed by the "gay and lesbian political caucus”.