Gives Thanks

BY Advocate Contributors

November 16 2010 10:00 PM ET


Annise Parker Takes Houston

The decade began on a positive note when Annise Parker assumed office January 2 as Houston’s mayor—the first lesbian leader of a major American city. Parker soon sprang into action, working on issues both arguably sexy (implementing preservation of historic buildings in Houston, the nation’s largest urban center without zoning) and decidedly not sexy (pushing for a citywide drainage fee). But Parker, active in gay causes since her college days at Rice University, has not shied away from LGBT rights. Using an executive order in April, she added gender identity and expression to Houston’s nondiscrimination policy for city workers and expanded LGBT protections to users of all city-run facilities. She wants to offer municipal employees partner benefits and is pushing for a citywide vote on the issue—the only way to change the current policy. This year Parker found herself pitted against Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov as both city leaders vied for an important 2014 oil convention. Although Moscow eventually won out, in a strange bit of irony, the lesbian mayor was named one of Time’s 100 most influential people in the world in April, while the virulently homophobic Luzhkov was fired by Russian president Dmitry Medvedev in September.