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Openly lesbian Annise Parker elected Mayor of Houston, Texas

(HOUSTON) Houston, Texas has become the largest city in the United States to elect an openly gay mayor after City Controller Annise Parker was declared the winner of Friday’s runoff election. Although social conservatives fought her election, funding a campaign aimed at turning out likeminded voters to support her opponent, former city attorney Gene Locke; Parker's endorsements from labor, police, women's, gay rights and other groups allowed her to emerge as the victor.

Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, which endorsed Parker, said her victory holds tremendous significance for the gay community.

"This is a watershed moment in American politics. Annise was elected by fair-minded people from across the city because of her experience and competence, and we're glad Houston soundly rejected the politics of division,” said Wolfe. “This victory sends a clear signal that gays and lesbians are an integral part of American civic life; that we're willing to lead, and that voters will respond to candidates who are open and honest about their lives.”

Parker's election was the Victory Fund's top political priority in 2009, a year that saw 54 of its 79 endorsed openly gay, lesbian bisexual and transgender (LGBT) candidates elected to public office.

"[This is] another milestone in the quest for LGBT equality,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “Annise is an incredibly qualified and gifted public servant who focused her campaign on public safety, the economy and the future of Houston. She stood up to last minute anti-gay attacks with grace, courage and determination which carried the day. Houston, America’s fourth largest city, sent a positive message to the nation, that it chose the best person for the job based on her experience and qualifications, while at the same time breaking another glass ceiling. We congratulate Annise on her stunning victory, and we congratulate the Victory Fund for their tireless and successful work on her behalf."

Parker praised the support of the Victory Fund and its donors, who raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to help fund her campaign.

"I am so grateful to the Victory Fund and its supporters for believing in this campaign from the beginning. This race was about the future of Houston, and whether we will face that future proud to be an open, welcoming, and fair-minded city. Houstonians said yes to a future like that, and I am glad the Victory Fund helped make that happen."