National Press Club

Openly gay mayor tells NPC Luncheon being the best mayor is the best thing she can do

December 10, 2013 | By Justin Duckham | justin@talkradionews.com

Houston Mayor Annise Parker discusses Houston's role as America's energy capital at a National Press Club Luncheon, Dec. 10, 2013. Joining the mayor at the Head Table are from left NPC President Angela Greiling Keane; Janice Evans, communications director for Mayor Parker; Jennifer A. Dlouhy, Houston Chronicle energy reporter; Margaret L. Ryan, energy journalist and analyst at Interfax Natural Gas Report and Dee Bhambhani, vice president of Stephenson Group representing Breitling Energy.

Houston Mayor Annise Parker discusses Houston's role as America's energy capital at a National Press Club Luncheon, Dec. 10, 2013. Joining the mayor at the Head Table are from left NPC President Angela Greiling Keane; Janice Evans, communications director for Mayor Parker; Jennifer A. Dlouhy, Houston Chronicle energy reporter; Margaret L. Ryan, energy journalist and analyst at Interfax Natural Gas Report and Dee Bhambhani, vice president of Stephenson Group representing Breitling Energy.

Photo/Image: Noel St. John

While Annise Parker is one of the first openly gay mayors in a major American city, the Houston mayor shied away from her status as a leading Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender -- LGBT -- figure during her appearance at a National Press Club Luncheon Dec. 10.

“The best thing I can do for the LGBT community, for my community, is to be the best mayor I can possibly be, to conduct myself with dignity and honor in all aspects,” Parker said.

Parker, who is currently serving her third and final term as mayor, emphasized the reality of her position, explaining that while she would love to see greater movement on the gay-rights front, there was only so much she could do.

When asked why she extended benefits to city employees in same-sex marriages but not domestic partnerships, Parker explained that it was beyond her control.

“There are certain things that I've been able to do by executive order,” Parker said. “There was a referendum in 2001 that added to our charter a provision that the city could not offer domestic-partner benefits.”

On a personal level, Parker said, she was eager for the day that she would be able to marry her partner of 23 years within her home state. However, she added, she was not sure how long she would be able to wait, predicting that Texas will only permit same-sex marriage once it is mandated at the federal level.

Parker was similarly reserved when it came to speculation regarding the politics of the Lone Star state. Saying that she was proud to support Democratic State Senator Wendy Davis’ bid for governor, Parker declined to give too rosy of a take on her chances, saying only that it was possible Davis could win in the predominantly Red State.

The mayor also resisted reading too much into the state’s shifting demographics, explaining that it was unlikely the state would be an electoral battleground in 2016 but that 2020 could be a highly different story.