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Annise Parker elected mayor of Houston
December 12, 2009 11:14 PM   Subscribe

Annise Parker, current City Controller of Houston, has defeated Gene Locke in a runoff election for mayor. She is the first openly gay person to lead a major U.S. city.
posted by granted (119 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
woooohoooo
posted by Ironmouth at 11:17 PM on December 12, 2009


I guess Portland's not a major US city.
posted by birdie birdington at 11:23 PM on December 12, 2009 [13 favorites]


Good for her. Now comes the hard part.
posted by faceonmars at 11:23 PM on December 12, 2009


I guess Portland's not a major US city.

Not when compared with Houston.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:25 PM on December 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


What makes for a major US city? I mean, Providence may be the capital of the smallest state and all, but we sure think we're important.
posted by Ruki at 11:28 PM on December 12, 2009


Not when compared with Houston.

Portland may not appear large when compared to Houston, but the boolean attribute of being a "major US city" is not something you'd compare one US city to another to determine.
posted by floam at 11:30 PM on December 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yeah - the correction is she's the first openly gay mayor in a Top 5 US City. 'Major' is a pretty subjective term.

sorry, I'm a Portlander. Needed clarification.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:30 PM on December 12, 2009


I'm all for the pithy, knowing comments and all, but: "wow, awesome."
posted by nevercalm at 11:32 PM on December 12, 2009



I'm all for the pithy, knowing comments and all, but: "wow, awesome."


Oh yeah, sorry. Regardless of the actual technical standing of the achievement - this is great! Hooray! (and Texas - stepping it up!)
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:33 PM on December 12, 2009


Yeah, I'm sorry, too. This is awesome.
posted by Ruki at 11:36 PM on December 12, 2009


Hey, congrats! The leader of my city is also gay, but it's a complete non-issue. So the best of luck that she too is judged solely on her policies and abilities.
posted by Sova at 11:39 PM on December 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah - the correction is she's the first openly gay mayor in a Top 5 US City.

To be clear, Houston is the 4th largest city in the country by population, while Portland is 29th (cite). Thus, despite its numerous positives, Portland is not, relatively speaking, a major city in the United States. For a large metropolis like Houston — in an extremist state like Texas, no less — to elect a gay mayor is a seriously positive step for the country.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:40 PM on December 12, 2009 [19 favorites]


She was the best candidate. Who she diddles doesn't matter. Houston is way cooler than Austin, by the way.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:42 PM on December 12, 2009 [9 favorites]


in an extremist state like Texas

Obama won the popular vote in Harris County (Houston's home).
posted by Burhanistan at 11:43 PM on December 12, 2009


Congrats! Much needed shot in the arm, after the defeats in Maine etc. Of course, this does not undo the damage of the much bigger defeats, but I'll take any movement in the right direction, however small. It's turning out to be a very happy Saturday!
posted by VikingSword at 11:44 PM on December 12, 2009


If we compare by population of metropolitan areas, Houston drops down to 6, and Portland pops up to 23rd, with Houston only having twice as many humans. In my opinion, just about anything with more people than Las Vegas ought to count as major. Also: this is great news.
posted by floam at 11:44 PM on December 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Look, enjoy the milestone, but Parker being elected mayor is but a drop in the bucket if you're looking for civil equality.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:45 PM on December 12, 2009


Wow, a gay person in charge! Whoo! No more corruption. No more injustice. No more classism, racism, or betrayal of the public trust. A clean sweep! Like after women entered politics.
posted by clarknova at 11:48 PM on December 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


NYT is actually a bit more in depth than the local rag linked in the post.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:50 PM on December 12, 2009


Obama won the popular vote in Harris County (Houston's home).

Even assuming that is fact, and even noting that Obama did not win the popular vote in the state of Texas, I'm not sure of the relevance of that to her election in Houston. She won her city despite a Republican-led campaign of bigotry and hate that roused up 47.2% of votes against her. That number is significant and would flatly contradict the idea that Texas is not extremist, just looking at Houston alone.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:50 PM on December 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


For a large metropolis like Houston — in an extremist state like Texas, no less — to elect a gay mayor is a seriously positive step for the country.

Oh absofuckinglutely. I wasn't trying to make a competition of the thing. and the Portland gay mayor thing hasn't exactly gone swimmingly...

Look, enjoy the milestone, but Parker being elected mayor is but a drop in the bucket if you're looking for civil equality.

Sigh. Alas, the fact that every little incremental achievement towards LBGT equality is an achievement at all is sad - and thus all the successes are bittersweet. We celebrate, and then we realize how fucked up it is that we're celebrating what should be a given in a country founded on 'equality.'
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:51 PM on December 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


Wow, a gay person in charge! Whoo! No more corruption. No more injustice. No more classism, racism, or betrayal of the public trust. A clean sweep! Like after women entered politics.

Wow. I fear you have gravely missed the point.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:53 PM on December 12, 2009 [24 favorites]


Wow, a gay person in charge! Whoo! No more corruption. No more injustice. No more classism, racism, or betrayal of the public trust. A clean sweep! Like after women entered politics.

What kind of passive-aggressive bullshit is this?? Whoever claimed anything like it? How about affording gay people the same expectations as anyone - good, bad or indifferent? Or are gay people supposed to be superhuman? Racists try this shit with the exaggerated demands from black people and double standards - is this crap now spreading to gay people too?

Gay people are PEOPLE - with all that implies. No more, and no less.
posted by VikingSword at 11:53 PM on December 12, 2009 [19 favorites]


Also, (and sorry for posting up the thread here) but if you're really hoping for Texas then you'll break off a few bucks for Bill White for Governor (White is the outgoing mayor and the first viable Democrat candidate since good ol' Ann Richards. He was a pretty darn good mayor and Parker has some pretty big shoes to fill here.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:53 PM on December 12, 2009 [4 favorites]


When everyone was campaigning for Howard Dean to be chair of the DNC, Mayor Parker was then a DNC member, and I was living in Houston. I called her from the list I had of DNC members - she was very friendly, and very supportive. Later, I phone banked for her city controller election, and met her in person - again, very friendly and very smart.

I didn't participate in this election because I've left the city, but Insiders were predicting that she would lose the run-off, and she pulled it off.

Congratulations to Mayor Parker.
posted by Pants! at 12:10 AM on December 13, 2009


Wow, a gay person in charge! Whoo! No more corruption. No more injustice. No more classism, racism, or betrayal of the public trust. A clean sweep! Like after women entered politics.

Well, bless your optimistic little heart! But I'm afraid your high hopes are just a tad naive, my friend, and you may want to recalibrate your grand expectations to the more realistic ones shared by most other posters in this thread. I for one am simply heartened to be one step closer to equal rights and opportunities for LGBT folk. Even, of course, if that includes the opportunity to be a corrupt, unjust, classist, racist, untrustworthy mayor of a major U.S. city. (I don't mean to crush you all at once but you also seem a little misinformed about female politicians, btw.)
posted by granted at 12:14 AM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sounds like they got the best candidate elected, good for them. I don't want to live there again but I do love Houston, enjoy visiting there, it really is diverse, has in all the years I've known it had a large liberal population alongside a strongly conservative business community. Big gay community, too. It's an unusual mix, a fun town.

It's comical that the conservative business community got behind a black candidate so as to defeat a gay candidate -- who'd have ever thought this twenty years ago, even ten.

Thought that I'd remembered that Whitmire (Houston Mayor through the 80s, very unfortunately for her she was a dead ringer for Dustin Hoffmans 'Tootsie' character) had also been controller before getting elected as mayor, wikipedia says it's so.

Good luck, Annise Parker.
posted by dancestoblue at 12:16 AM on December 13, 2009


Wow, a gay person in charge! Whoo! No more corruption. No more injustice. No more classism, racism, or betrayal of the public trust. A clean sweep! Like after women entered politics.

Of course, I know I'm responding to a troll here - no one's said anything of the kind, and it's flagrantly idiotic comment anyhow - but the simple fact is that the more inclusive a government is, the better things tend to be for all segments of the population. Except, I guess, racist sexist homophobes - but those people truly are living out their personal choice!

Women gaining voting rights ultimately resulted in better rights and protections and lives for most women, or at the very least it expanded their opportunities to gain such things. This sort of change is nearly always at a net benefit to society, and so it should be celebrated. I don't care if the mayor of Houston is a lesbian or not personally, but to me it signals that the population of this city in a very conservative state has at least opened its eyes enough to vote for who clearly appears to be the better candidate. Had the citizens of Houston voted for the weaker candidate simply because he *wasn't* gay, that would have been something to lament. The opposite reality makes this something to celebrate!
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 12:19 AM on December 13, 2009 [6 favorites]


clarknova Wow, a gay person in charge! Whoo! No more corruption. No more injustice. No more classism, racism, or betrayal of the public trust. A clean sweep! Like after women entered politics.

VikingSword Or are gay people supposed to be superhuman? Racists try this shit with the exaggerated demands from black people and double standards - is this crap now spreading to gay people too?

All else being equal, gay politicians in the USA are significantly less likely to be politically aligned with the Religious Right and the Republican Party for whom it stands, with Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, and the rest of the Mad Hatters' Tea Party, with Rupert Murdoch and Fox News, and with Rush Limbaugh.

Accordingly, this makes them significantly less likely to be vicious, corrupt liars who would gladly drive the national good, wellbeing, honor and if need be the people themselves of the USA off of the nearest cliff for personal and ideological gain.

So yes, if you as an American voter knew absolutely nothing about Candidate A and Candidate B except that Candidate A is openly gay (leaving aside the fact that this kind of pseudoknowledge exists only in game theory exercises), then you would be better off to vote for Candidate A.

Same goes for black, actually - up to and including for the presidency. Voting for Barack Obama because he is black was a valid choice. Stack every level of the US Government from town dogcatcher up with black people, and you will be better off, because you will have significantly less Republicans and Republican-aligned fellow travellers.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 12:21 AM on December 13, 2009 [15 favorites]


It's comical that the conservative business community got behind a black candidate so as to defeat a gay candidate

That's probably not the best way to characterize it. Locke definitely would have been a better crony to developers than Parker.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:21 AM on December 13, 2009


>: She is the first openly gay person to lead a major U.S. city.

I always thought San Francisco counted as pretty ginormous.
posted by dunkadunc at 12:24 AM on December 13, 2009


Wow, a gay person in charge! Whoo! No more corruption. No more injustice. No more classism, racism, or betrayal of the public trust. A clean sweep! Like after women entered politics.

Obviously, you don't think Annise Parker was the right person for the job. Who would you have voted for?
posted by dirigibleman at 12:27 AM on December 13, 2009


I always thought San Francisco counted as pretty ginormous.

Which mayor is or was openly gay?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:29 AM on December 13, 2009


dunkadunc

San Francisco is #12 by population.

Mind you the phrase "major U.S. city" is somewhat suspect here. I think it would've saved a lot of headache if the FPP just said that it's the largest city to have an openly-gay mayor.
posted by Target Practice at 12:29 AM on December 13, 2009


Even assuming that is fact

It is. This is my county, and I'm involved in local politics. I'm very excited to see the candidate I was backing win. I had the chance to meet Ms. Parker at an event during the campaign, and I was very impressed by her sharp mind and toughness. She's a policy wonk, and that's always a plus in my book. I really think Houston elected the best person running, and I'm pretty damn pleased, let me tell you.

She won her city despite a Republican-led campaign of bigotry and hate that roused up 47.2% of votes against her. That number is significant and would flatly contradict the idea that Texas is not extremist, just looking at Houston alone.

Not even close. Oh, there was definitely some bigotry - her opponent courted scandal by not dismissing the endorsement of a particular local idiot who has made a career out of opposing gay rights, and apparently some members of his finance commitee contributed toward some ugly anti-gay attack ads - but it's not at all fair to say that, "Oh, almost half the people voted against her, ergo half the people are bigots." Both she and her opponent in the runoff, Gene Locke, are Democrats. Most of their policy points are the same. I wasn't a Locke fan, but it's completely unfair to say that his supporters were only interested in voting against a lesbian. He was a strong candidate in his own right (although I had my share of issues with him), and as a Black man he had strong support in the Black community. You might as well say that the people who voted for Parker were racists.

Something like 16% of registered voters voted in the runoff. For the most part, I think the bigots stayed home because their choice was between a black man and a lesbian. Just as well.
posted by Salieri at 12:35 AM on December 13, 2009 [7 favorites]


I think it would've saved a lot of headache if the FPP just said that it's the largest city to have an openly-gay mayor.

Hey, don't blame me, blame the Houston Chronicle article that I plagiarized that from.
posted by granted at 12:37 AM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


It is.

Obama is not Parker, and vice versa. I guess to be absolutely clear, I should have pointed out the quote I pulled was a bit of a non sequitor.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:39 AM on December 13, 2009


To be fair, the Houston Chronicle counts Houston as the only major city in America.
posted by rokusan at 12:53 AM on December 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


From the last link: "When Parker finally appeared at 10:30 p.m., resplendent in a gold pantsuit and pearl necklace"

That's a really funny sentence. It makes me want to continue with it. So I will...

When Parker finally appeared at 10:30 p.m., resplendent in a gold pantsuit and pearl necklace, borne aloft by peacocks and monarch butterflies, bedappled by silvery moonbeams, and surrounded by a constellation of woodsprites which gamboled merrily in the air with joyous abandon, and then the swan trumpeters blew their instruments, summoning forth a melody so exquisite it brought quietude to the multifarious assemblage of beasts, sylphs and cast members of Star Trek: The Next Generation. To the front of the stage strode Patrick Stewart and declaimed to the animals, nymphs and his fellow travelers on the starship Enterprise: "Gay... the Final Frontier. These are the voyages of the Annise Parker. Her continuing mission: to be this strange city's mayor, to seek out new life and new revenue streams, to boldly lead where no gay has led before." Doooo doo doo doooo doo doo doooo doodoodoodooo dooo dooo doodoo doo doooooo <fade out>
posted by Kattullus at 12:55 AM on December 13, 2009 [18 favorites]


All else being equal, -openly- gay politicians in the USA are significantly less likely to be politically aligned with the Religious Right and the Republican Party

Fixed that fer ya, cowpoke.
posted by rokusan at 12:55 AM on December 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


"When Parker finally appeared at 10:30 p.m., resplendent in a gold pantsuit and pearl necklace"....

So. Many. Awful. Jokes. Inside. Me...... Must. Resist.
posted by rokusan at 12:57 AM on December 13, 2009


Parker won because she ran a smart race as the best qualified canidate. She was the most recognizable canidate; she has been an out public figure here for over a decade in local government. She was the most well spoken in the debates.

The local biweekly had a story a few months back about how boring the mayoral race was with a democrat lesbian controller, a democrat black lawyer, a white democrat arcitect, and a Latino republican who came in fourth election day. Parker's orientation was a non-issue until just a few weeks ago when some local bigots tried to make it one. But it didn't get much traction because everyone already knew she was gay and it just looked like what it was: ugly bigotry and dirty campaigning.

I am a very proud Houstion today. The bigots couldn't motivate the other bigots to bother to vote just on that. Those of us who did vote were able to vote for the best canidate out of multiple good choices. She wasn't even the only openly gay canidate on the ballot. Now we have a pretty awesome leader. I doubt this will be the last time the rest of the country hears about Annise Parker.
posted by dog food sugar at 1:15 AM on December 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


MAN IF TEXAS KEEPS VOTING IN CONSERVATIVES THIS WAY WE SHOULD JUST LET THEM SECEDE AND...

What?

Who?

Oh, never mind. They should stay part of the USA then.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:16 AM on December 13, 2009



So. Many. Awful. Jokes. Inside. Me...... Must. Resist.


Oh, you know if you rsist that joke, someone will make a worse one for you. It's Rule 41.

Also, I told y'all Texas is secretly awesome.


Houston is way cooler than Austin, by the way.

HAHAHA you are funny.
posted by louche mustachio at 1:18 AM on December 13, 2009


Ugh. Pardon my iPod spelling. I'm a proud Houstonian who has difficulty spelling on a little screen.
posted by dog food sugar at 1:20 AM on December 13, 2009


As a point of comparison: over here in Berlin we've had an openly gay mayor since 2001. The mayor of Hamburg since 2001 is also gay, though less openly, and is a member of the Christian Democratic Union. But I doubt whether gay leadership would be tolerated in Bavaria, which is Germany's Texas.
posted by creasy boy at 1:51 AM on December 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


Firstly: Awesome.

Secondly: Burhanistan: She was the best candidate. Who she diddles doesn't matter. — Why are you a commie fascist who hates freedom?
posted by hattifattener at 1:59 AM on December 13, 2009


This is good news. Time to break out the good Scotch and listen to a little Dino.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:00 AM on December 13, 2009


I always thought San Francisco counted as pretty ginormous.

The actual city of SF is not that large, though it is surrounded by dense suburban areas, but like Portland it has an outsize cultural impact.

But I doubt whether gay leadership would be tolerated in Bavaria, which is Germany's Texas.

It would be the only place in the world where groups of men would put on leather trousers, get drunk together and sing to campaign against a gay candidate, that's for sure.
posted by atrazine at 2:10 AM on December 13, 2009 [5 favorites]


Not entirely related, but I get the feeling that people are only afraid of homosexuals because homosexuality implies sexuality. If you think about it, it's pretty freaky to have any two people rub one another in the nude.
posted by LSK at 2:28 AM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


it's pretty freaky to have any two people rub one another in the nude.

Bring on the freaky.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:38 AM on December 13, 2009


But I doubt whether gay leadership would be tolerated in Bavaria, which is Germany's Texas.

Thomas Niederbühl is an openly gay city councilman in Munich and Bodenmais has an openly gay mayor. Bavaria is a conservative state, but people here aren't the bigots the rest of the country thinks.
posted by cmonkey at 3:02 AM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Houston is the first openly major US city to have a gay mayor.
posted by DU at 3:10 AM on December 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


Oh well then that's good. Ignore my comment.
posted by creasy boy at 3:29 AM on December 13, 2009


Bavaria is a conservative state, but people here aren't the bigots the rest of the country thinks.

I guess it really is Germany's Texas.
posted by atrazine at 3:56 AM on December 13, 2009


(I can't resist this...)
Metafilter: Germany's Texas.
posted by crataegus at 4:23 AM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Annise Parker's wife is our tax attorney. She's no Michelle Obama but we like her.

I feel bad for anyone following in Bill White's footsteps, but as long as she focuses less on the spreadsheets and more on enhancing what makes Houston great, it'll work out.

Burhanistan: Houston is way cooler than Austin, by the way.

FOR REAL. I lived in Austin for 15 years, and left because I got tired of all the self-absorbed over-privileged slackers. Houston is cool because of our diversity and our badass ability and willingness to work past obstacles to make shit happen, not just sit around drinking beer and talking about it. Annise and her wife have worked hard to get where they are. Her election is only a surprise to those who think coolness is more about what a city can do for you, not what you can do for a city.
posted by pomegranate at 4:32 AM on December 13, 2009


1. Bavaria, which is Germany's Texas.
Hello, FPP waiting to happen. Hell yes I would read this. Do they have really good German barbecue there? Large silly hats? Do they teach line-dancing to preschoolers and grade them on it? Do expat Bavarians get Bavarian accents cropping up when they get emotional?

2. Woohoo gay lady mayor, I am so glad whenever my origin-state does something that isn't completely assholish.

3. I am so not looking forward to talking to my Grandma now. "Did you hear about the new Mayor? They say she's a communist, and she's going to steal all my money, through the taxes, you know." "Oh, Grandma, I don't know about that." "The ladies I play Bridge with say that she's a gay, you know. I don't care about that but I don't want the gays getting all of my money." Sigh, Grandma.
posted by Mizu at 5:09 AM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Bloomberg is straight?
posted by Hammond Rye at 5:34 AM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Cool and all, but I'll be even happier when everybody's like 'So what?'
posted by Pragmatica at 5:35 AM on December 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


What's up with the 16% turnout, Houston?
posted by fixedgear at 5:40 AM on December 13, 2009


@fixedgear - Neither Locke nor Parker were considered very exciting candidates, aside from race and sexual orientation. They're both kinda wonky insiders with very similar perspectives and priorities, so most people just stayed home. Houston's biggest issue is water management - and only after your house floods does that get your attention.
posted by pomegranate at 5:53 AM on December 13, 2009



Bloomberg is straight?


OPENLY gay.
posted by gcbv at 5:55 AM on December 13, 2009


That a Democrat won is a major story in itself in Texas.
posted by Postroad at 5:59 AM on December 13, 2009


That a Democrat won is a major story in itself in Texas.

Houston hasn't had a Republican mayor since 1982, if I'm not mistaken.
posted by DaDaDaDave at 6:24 AM on December 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


I see your openly gay mayor and raise you TWO Cambridge, MAssachusetts openly gay black mayors. Only difference is Cambridge does not elect their mayor in an open election. They elect 9 city councilors who select a mayor from amongst themselves. Kenneth Reeves was the first, and Denise Simmons the second.
posted by Gungho at 6:26 AM on December 13, 2009


Houston is the fourth largest city in the US, and Portland is 29th (Providence is 136th). In terms of metro area, Houston-Sugarland is sixth, and Portland-Salem 23rd (Provdinz-Fall Reeve-New Beige is 37th... a surprisingly major population center.)

If by "Major City" they mean in the top ten, sure... but otherwise, Salem is a major city, bigger than Cleveland or Indianapolis. (Can you say "Salem Jaguars?" Nice ring to it, IMO.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:28 AM on December 13, 2009


We sure have a bunch of misconceptions about Texas / Houston.
posted by polyhedron at 6:31 AM on December 13, 2009 [8 favorites]


I am so not looking forward to talking to my Grandma now. "Did you hear about the new Mayor? They say she's a communist, and she's going to steal all my money, through the taxes, you know." "Oh, Grandma, I don't know about that." "The ladies I play Bridge with say that she's a gay, you know. I don't care about that but I don't want the gays getting all of my money." Sigh, Grandma.

Are you related to Mr. Danaos? Because this is his grandmother, at least when she's not complaining about all those pesky Mexicans in the city! (Which I always think is pretty rich coming from Ms. "My Grandmother Was An American Indian Princess.")
posted by timeo danaos at 6:37 AM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't live in Texas but have been there often. My impression is that Texas cities get a bad rap when the "extremism" of the state as a whole is discussed. There are strong progressive elements in the cities, just like elsewhere. Dallas County has a lesbian sheriff, I believe. What makes Texas so conservative is the fact that suburbs and especially exurbs tend to be very conservative--and the state has a great many of them.
posted by texorama at 7:04 AM on December 13, 2009


Thomas Niederbühl is an openly gay city councilman in Munich and Bodenmais has an openly gay mayor. Bavaria is a conservative state, but people here aren't the bigots the rest of the country thinks.

I guess it really is Germany's Texas.

Here in Fort Worth, we have an openly gay city councilman as well. And Dallas has an openly lesbian sheriff.

Not that there aren't still horrendous fuckups like the Rainbow Lounge incident.
posted by kmz at 7:08 AM on December 13, 2009


Dallas County has a lesbian sheriff, I believe.

Yep. Lupe Valdez.
posted by mediareport at 7:27 AM on December 13, 2009


OMG Houston has an OGM!
posted by Albryhno at 7:45 AM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


In idyllic liberal stronghold Oregon 40.8% of people voted for John McCain in 2008. In loathsome conservative dungeon Texas 43.8% voted for Barack Obama.
posted by dirtdirt at 7:47 AM on December 13, 2009 [6 favorites]


We sure have a bunch of misconceptions about Texas / Houston.

Also about San Francisco, which has never had a gay mayor.
posted by notswedish at 7:48 AM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm glad they qualified this as "openly gay mayor". Most of us assumed that Kathy Whitmire, mayor of Houston from 1982-1991, was lesbian. It pretty much never came up in public discourse though.

Texas has a long history of respecting strong women in politics: Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Ma Ferguson. I know it's popular to hate on Texas for being all conservative and shitkicker. Which a lot of it is. But the big cities are also full of open-minded, intelligent people. And the state as a whole has a huge Hispanic population, complicating the charicature (hipsters, go watch the movie Lone Star).
posted by Nelson at 7:51 AM on December 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


That a Democrat won is a major story in itself in Texas.

No, it's not. It's only a major story outside Texas, amongst people who don't realize that the state has millions of Democrats and they routinely hold elected office there. Obama won 43.6 percent of the vote in the whole state, not just Harris County. And 48.7 percent of the members of the Texas House of Representatives are Democrats.

She won her city despite a Republican-led campaign of bigotry and hate that roused up 47.2% of votes against her.

Hey, I'm willing to believe that many of these people voted for Locke because they were bigots. But maybe you should consider that some of them did so for other reasons.
posted by grouse at 7:53 AM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


I would welcome a "What is the Texas of [country]?" FPP. Bavaria most certainly is the Texas of Germany. I've been told County Cork is the Texas of Ireland, and that Osaka is the Dallas of Japan. Clearly, "Texas" has ascended mere statehood, and is now a concept of global proportions.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:10 AM on December 13, 2009 [6 favorites]


I'm really happy for my home town today. I've had a hate-on for Hotze (the anti-gay campaigner that Gene Locke refused to repudiate) since the Straight Slate days back when I was in high school. Annise Parker was a good controller and I'm sure she'll be a good mayor, too.

Houston's mayoral races are traditionally nonpartisan, probably because partisan rancor is "bad for bidness" and nothing that's "bad for bidness" is allowed to stand in Houston. While it's no surprise a Democrat won, my reading up on the race doesn't suggest she broke that tradition. There was a partisan Republican who ran about 10 years ago but he managed to sink himself in the runoff, in part, I think, because it was perceived he was going to use the mayor's office as a stepping stone to higher positions in the Republican Party (this would be Orlando Sanchez for those up on Houston politics).

I like to think that part of what happened here is that the business community in Houston got behind the idea that bigotry is worse for the community than any perceived negative value of Parker's homosexuality. The 16% turnout number says it was an inside baseball election, though, and my guess is that Parker's supporters (including Houston's GLBT community) just outdid Locke's supporters in getting out the vote.
posted by immlass at 8:25 AM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow, a gay person in charge! Whoo! No more corruption. No more injustice. No more classism, racism, or betrayal of the public trust. A clean sweep! Like after women entered politics.

One step at a time, douchebag.

What's really a shame is that her sexuality has anything to do with, well, anything.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:40 AM on December 13, 2009


But the big cities are also full of open-minded, intelligent people.

Yes; and big cities and suburbs in TX alike are increasingly full of people not born in the South. Which gives me hope for more change. I'm a native, but benefitted greatly by going to school with and working with people from all over of all races, something my parents and grandparents found terrifying.

Good on you, Houston; and if we got White as governor too, then I'd be able to feel some hope for my state again.
posted by emjaybee at 8:43 AM on December 13, 2009


I like to think that part of what happened here is that the business community in Houston got behind the idea that bigotry is worse for the community than any perceived negative value of Parker's homosexuality.

The last link starts by calling Parker "the first contender in a generation to defeat the hand-picked candidate of Houston's business establishment."
posted by mediareport at 8:48 AM on December 13, 2009


She has the support of the Fraternal Order of Police, and has promised to increase the number of officers on the street, which, frankly, is basically the complete opposite of what is going to help alleviate Houston's horrendous crime problem. Sooner or later you pass a certain non-distinct barrier where adding x number of additional police officers to your force is going to have an increasingly smaller effect on crime. I think we've passed that line quite some time ago.

In all seriousness, I'm glad that we, as a country, have reached a point where we can get the haterade on for a politician based on their zany policies rather than their sexuality. That's gotta count for something.
posted by Avenger at 8:49 AM on December 13, 2009


Alberta is the Texas of Canada. In fact, I'll bet they out-Texas Texas on nine out of ten issues.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:51 AM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


For a large metropolis like Houston — in an extremist state like Texas, no less — to elect a gay mayor is a seriously positive step for the country.

Before this turns into yet another Texas hate-fest, I feel I should point out that in the 2008 Presidential election, Obama got 44% of the vote in Texas, which means, on a percentage basis, Texas is less "extremist" than: Alaska, Oklahoma, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, and West Virginia.

In terms of sheer numbers, Texas obviously has an advantage being such a large state, but more people voted for Obama in Texas than in (among others): Michigan, Washington, Oregon, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.

Anyway, this is great news for Houston and great news for everyone.
posted by albrecht at 9:04 AM on December 13, 2009 [6 favorites]


Not knowing anything about Houston's local political machinations or about Annise Parker and her proposed policies for dealing with Houston's particular set of issues, I don't know whether it's "good" or "bad" that she got elected, especially if the low turnout is any indication of the extent to which Houstonians cared one way or the other.

But I am glad, nonetheless, that she won, mostly because it's an opportunity to say that the hatemongering of the pastors who engineered the anti-gay campaign against her failed, because it's an opportunity for Parker to demonstrate that who she is in her private life should have absolutely nothing to do with her qualifications to be the mayor of one of the largest cities in the US (or anything damn else that she aspires to be), and because it's an opportunity to celebrate after a year of heartbreaking political losses for LGBT people.
posted by blucevalo at 9:11 AM on December 13, 2009


aeschenkarnos:"Accordingly, this makes them significantly less likely to be vicious, corrupt liars who would gladly drive the national good, wellbeing, honor and if need be the people themselves of the USA off of the nearest cliff for personal and ideological gain."

Good God, what a load of nonsense. Being a Democrat automatically makes them significantly less likely to be corrupt? Man, that statement is just not grounded in reality.
posted by TheFlamingoKing at 9:15 AM on December 13, 2009


Mediareport: The hope I'm expressing is that Locke's bumbling of the Hotze endorsement (which came in the runoff) and his refusal to repudiate it was a net negative for the business community. Hotze's whole schtick and power base are built on hate. The day his endorsement is considered radioactive and politicians reject it as a matter of course can't come too soon.
posted by immlass at 9:18 AM on December 13, 2009


Yeah, San Francisco has never had a gay mayor, open or otherwise. Not sure what that comment was about. We've had gay mayoral candidates (and have one now) but none have won. Tom Ammiano came closest.

Now, if you want to talk about New York, *cough* *Koch*...
posted by gingerbeer at 9:24 AM on December 13, 2009


what up Gorczynski family!
posted by MNDZ at 9:25 AM on December 13, 2009


In idyllic liberal stronghold Oregon 40.8% of people voted for John McCain in 2008. In loathsome conservative dungeon Texas 43.8% voted for Barack Obama.

I appreciate the larger point, but numerically this is a bad example. It means that the rate of McCain voting wasn't a little bit higher in Texas, it was 140% what it was in Oregon. The difference between 60/40 and 40/60 is not a small difference.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:40 AM on December 13, 2009


If we compare by population of metropolitan areas, Houston drops down to 6, and Portland pops up to 23rd, with Houston only having twice as many humans. In my opinion, just about anything with more people than Las Vegas ought to count as major. Also: this is great news.

In terms of metro area, Houston-Sugarland is sixth, and Portland-Salem 23rd

Metropolitan areas don't elect mayors; cities do. The only population that matters in an election is the the eligible voting population, and by that measure Houston is unambiguously the largest American city to elect a openly gay mayor.

America's still not quite Iceland though.
posted by alopez at 9:45 AM on December 13, 2009


The low turn out has a lot to do with this being a run-off for city offices only on a rainy Saturday. No propositions, no state or national votes.

Parker is a smart polititian: she defined Locke as a business lobby lawyer before he could define his own campaign. He was not as public as she was before the election. People had already heard of Annise Parker for years.

What's really great about this election is how it was about issues and who would be the strongest leader. The late hour gay bashing did not work AT ALL. The voters did not care about that. The bigots were either an insignificant volume of voters or couldn't hate enough to actually vote that hate.

Now we have a public figure voted in by merit who is a little league mom of two and savvy hard working official. For those that already don't grasp how normal it is to be gay, know gay people, be around gay people - she is a great public example to encourage awareness and acceptance. Despite all the ups and heartwrenching downs this year - that is the direction we're going.
posted by dog food sugar at 9:59 AM on December 13, 2009


I would welcome a "What is the Texas of [country]?" FPP.

I might prefer a 'What is the [city/state/country] of Texas?' one. Is Austin the Ann Arbor, the Asheville or the Madison?
posted by box at 10:00 AM on December 13, 2009


where's the "L" word in all this coverage? I heard this first on the radio as "gay mayor" and did not realize they'd elected a LESBIAN, not a gay man. Gay does not equal lesbian. Say "lesbian mayor" loud and proud, thank you very much.
posted by kuppajava at 10:07 AM on December 13, 2009


Same goes for black, actually - up to and including for the presidency. Voting for Barack Obama because he is black was a valid choice. Stack every level of the US Government from town dogcatcher up with black people, and you will be better off, because you will have significantly less Republicans and Republican-aligned fellow travellers.

Black politicians have proved themselves just as able to be corrupt, venal and stupid as white politicians. So, no, "stacking" the government with black people would not assure that we will be better off. Stacking the government with any race will not assure we will be better off.
posted by jayder at 10:16 AM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


I get what you're saying, jayder, but I think the original commenter's point was that members of minority groups (racial or otherwise) are, statistically speaking, less likely to be Republicans.
posted by box at 10:25 AM on December 13, 2009


Yeah, those inbred racist homophobic Texas a-holes!!!
posted by Senator at 10:44 AM on December 13, 2009


But is she gay for Moleman?
posted by blue_beetle at 10:48 AM on December 13, 2009


Texas brought forth upon the continent the Butthole Surfers, Really Red, MDC, Stickmen with Ray Guns and Daniel Johnston, so Texas is alright with me.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:51 AM on December 13, 2009


1. Bavaria, which is Germany's Texas.
Hello, FPP waiting to happen. Hell yes I would read this. Do they have really good German barbecue there? Large silly hats? Do they teach line-dancing to preschoolers and grade them on it? Do expat Bavarians get Bavarian accents cropping up when they get emotional?


Um... okay, I'm not German, and I only lived in Hannover (decidedly NOT in Bavaria) for a year, but I did learn a tad about German culture over the years.

Yes. Bavaria has its own traditional cuisine (wild deer and mushrooms, black forest cherry cake, etc), they have their own strange costuming (lederhosen and dirndl), they have their own formalized dances which children learn when they are young (Schuhplattler -- that thigh-slapping dance which is often parodied), and there is a specific Bavarian accent which can be overcome in pursuit of Hochdeutsch but which comes to the fore if the speaker is emotional.

Certainly German natives should correct me about these things, but I'm under the impression that, much in the same way Germans have a bit of a love affair with the "wild west america" and may regard the entire country as being cowboy country, American's impression of Germany is overwhelmingly about Bavaria and Oktoberfest, etc. Germany's Texas, indeed.
posted by hippybear at 11:20 AM on December 13, 2009


Wait, isn't the governor of Texas gay?

/me scrolls back

Oh, we're talking openly gay. Nevermind. Congrats, Houston!
posted by electroboy at 11:38 AM on December 13, 2009


Congrats to Houston.

San Francisco, which has never had a gay mayor.

I run into people all the time who think Gavin Newsome is gay until I tell them that his wife just had a baby. Some people also mistakenly think that Harvey Milk was Mayor.
posted by Revvy at 11:44 AM on December 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


Gavin Newsom was America's first gay mayor, just like Bill Clinton was its first black president.
posted by bicyclefish at 12:03 PM on December 13, 2009


What makes for a major US city? I mean, Providence may be the capital of the smallest state and all, but we sure think we're important.

Yeah, why y'all got to be looking down on Little Rhody all the time? Anyhow, David Cicilline is the first openly gay mayor of a capital US City, so... well... NYAH NYAH NYAH.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 12:09 PM on December 13, 2009


Also: 'moonMan has declared Alentejo to be the Texas of Portugal.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 12:13 PM on December 13, 2009


It's hard to tell from outside the US, but I'd love to know - has Gotham been adopted by the Democrats in general, or is it more a trend for subtly mimicking Obama's branding in politics and advertising?
posted by carbide at 12:27 PM on December 13, 2009


Obviously, you don't think Annise Parker was the right person for the job. Who would you have voted for?

Amanda Ulman
posted by clarknova at 1:36 PM on December 13, 2009


TheFlamingoKing Good God, what a load of nonsense. Being a Democrat automatically makes them significantly less likely to be corrupt? Man, that statement is just not grounded in reality.

Being a Democrat makes them significantly less likely to be a Republican. I suppose it depends on your willingness to equate being a Republican with being corrupt, stupid, and massively incompetent, ie your how good your memory since the early 1980's or so is.

There are some proportion of corrupt, stupid, and/or incompetent (especially incompetent) Democrats. But if there are any Republicans who aren't corrupt, stupid, and/or incompentent, I don't see 'em.

jayder Black politicians have proved themselves just as able to be corrupt, venal and stupid as white politicians. So, no, "stacking" the government with black people would not assure that we will be better off. Stacking the government with any race will not assure we will be better off.

It certainly will not assure that you will be best off. Appointing black people, or gay people, or any other subset of humanity to be a ruling class is not ideal. What I'm saying is that you would probably be better off than you are now, because you would reduce the proportion of Republicans in government down to a near-harmless number.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 2:26 PM on December 13, 2009


But what is the Texas of Texas?! My vote goes for Galveston, which is so ready to secede that it is regularly in treaty talks with Atlantis...
posted by greekphilosophy at 4:10 PM on December 13, 2009


Being a Democrat automatically makes them significantly less likely to be corrupt?

You're looking at it backwards. Not being Republican makes them significantly less likely to be corrupt. It's not so much what they are, as what they are not.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:36 PM on December 13, 2009


Not being Republican makes them significantly less likely to be corrupt. It's not so much what they are, as what they are not.

I would never vote for a Republican, but even I don't believe this. Democrats and Republicans are equally corrupt, I am quite certain.
posted by jayder at 6:37 PM on December 13, 2009


You're looking at it backwards. Not being Republican makes them significantly less likely to be corrupt. It's not so much what they are, as what they are not.

On a national level, perhaps. On a state or municipal level, I don't think Democrats are any less likely to be corrupt than Republicans, or vice versa. If anyone has statistics to the contrary, though, I think we'd all be interested to see it.

Oh, and congratulations to Houston on their election. Perhaps one day people will be able to vote for someone without the notion of their race, gender, or sexual orientation even being a factor.
posted by armage at 7:04 PM on December 13, 2009


Oh, and congratulations to Houston on their election. Perhaps one day people will be able to vote for someone without the notion of their race, gender, or sexual orientation even being a factor.

I'm not sure it even was here. The two run-off candidates were a lesbian and a black guy, and that really didn't matter.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:14 PM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


After jaydar's comment, I was thinking more that the national Dems are probably as corrupt, while the locals might not be so bad.

In the end, I suppose the only sensible thing to do is get rid of the entire friggin' lot of them. Start over. Reboot. Scrap the entire thing and implement Democracy 2.0.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:30 PM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, line 'em up against the wall and mow 'em down. Works just great.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:51 PM on December 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


That's what the teabaggers are always saying.
posted by grouse at 8:07 PM on December 13, 2009


“Let Them Eat Teabags!” Michelle Antoinabama snarked at her entourage.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:50 PM on December 13, 2009


As a native Houstonian, I've gotta say "way to go home town!"

As an expat living in Austria and spending a reasonable amount of time in Germany (mostly in Bavaria):

More info on the topic Bavaria and Texas. In that collection of quotes and comments on the subject, one "Bavaria is the Texas of Germany" quote from as far back as 1954 is cited.

Here's my recollection of a scene in "Der Bulle von Tölz," in which cowboys and Texas played a large role:
- Detective Benno Berhammer walks into police station, sees officer with his feet (shod in cowboy boots) propped up on desk
Detective: "What's going on here? Do you think we're in Texas?"
Officer: "Bavaria's every bit as much Texas as Texas is."

It's a blessing and a curse to be a Texas expat. On the one hand, it's one of few states that practically everyone in the world has heard of (along with New York, California and Florida). When people ask where I'm from, I always reply that I'm from Texas, rather than the US. Most people have images or conceptions of Texas (many of them positive) in their heads, and I find that telling people I'm from Texas often spurs my conversation partner's curiosity and opens up a whole range of conversation possibilities that don't come with telling them that I'm from the US.

On the other hand: George W. Bush.

Lastly, I'd say that Kärnten (Carinthia) is probably Austria's Texas. I attended a Catholic baptism in Carinthia last weekend. My Tony Llamas were a real hit.
posted by syzygy at 3:04 AM on December 14, 2009


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