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Houston Mayor Annise Parker Pushes LGBT-Inclusive Nondiscrimination Ordinance

By Daniel Reynolds

During her inaugural address Thursday, Houston Mayor Annise Parker announced her intention of passing a citywide nondiscrimination ordinance that includes gender identity and sexual orientation.

Parker, a lesbian who won the mayoral race in November, made diversity and the necessity of its fostering a cornerstone of her speech, which marks the beginning of her third two-year term as the leader of the nation’s fourth-largest city.

“Diversity where ideas meet and those seeds germinate can be a garden of plenty,” the 57-year-old Democrat said. “To ensure the full participation of every Houstonian in the business and civic life of this great city, it is time to pass a comprehensive nondiscrimination ordinance that adds sexual orientation and gender identity to the protections most Houstonians take for granted.”

Parker, who recently issued an executive order to offer health and life insurance to legally married same-sex spouses of city employees, is the second woman to be elected mayor of Houston and one of the first LGBT mayors of a major city in the United States. Houston is the largest U.S. city to have an openly gay or lesbian mayor.

Although Parker has previously stated that she would not marry until same-sex marriage is legal in Texas, the Houston Chronicle reports that she and Kathy Hubbard, her partner of 23 years, may wed this month in Palm Springs, Calif., as marriage equality was restored to California by the U.S. Supreme Court last summer.

Read Parker's full inaugural address on the official site for Houston city government.

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