Sunday, December 13, 2009

Congrats to Annise Parker

We should all offer our congratulations to Annise Parker.  Saturday night was an extraordinary moment in Houston and LGBT history.   An openly gay woman is now the mayor of the 4th largest city in the United States.  How can we not celebrate?

But after the celebrations, we need to let her govern.  Despite Houston's vote yesterday, it is still a city that could, to put it mildly, be a little more gay friendly.  The voters recently passed a referendum prohibiting Houston from offering domestic partnership benefits.  It's now in the Houston charter.

I love that Annise Parker was elected last night, even as I wrestle with the contradiction that Houston voters also don't want to treat her as an equal.  But Annise Parker is a pragmatic progressive.  She has spoken often about the step by step, chipping away process of gaining equal rights.  Like many of us, she was deeply disappointed in California and Maine.  Her response has been to forge ahead, running for mayor of one of America's largest cities, and winning.  She believes that bigotry is dismantled one relationship at a time.  She has been given a position of enormous importance to do just that.  In her new position she may not push many of the LGBT causes that I and others might like her to, but she will chip away at the homophobia that characterized much of the campaign just by being a great mayor.  She will slowly show the electorate the great irony and insult of electing a woman mayor of a city in which she is also treated as a second class citizen.

She needs to do it her way.  It has worked so far.  The best thing we can do is support her and let her govern the way she knows how to govern.  We need to trust her and not hold her up to our personal image of what a "gay mayor" should be.

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