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Annise Parker Stuns Doubters with Houston Mayoral Election Victory

Annise Parker with her wife Kathy Hubbard after winning the mayoral election.
Annise Parker with her wife Kathy Hubbard after winning the mayoral election.

Annise Parker’s election as mayor of Houston, Texas, in December 2009 was a sign of the progress the LGBTQ+ community had made in just a few short decades. As the first out LGBTQ+ person elected mayor of a major U.S. city, it merited news briefs on the front page of The Times of India, among other international news outlets.

“Tonight the voters of Houston have opened the doors to history,” Parker said on election night with her partner, Kathy Hubbard, their three children, and her mother on stage with her, the Houston Chronicle reported December 12, 2009. “I acknowledge that. I embrace that. I know what this win means to many of us who thought we could never achieve high office . . . But now, from this moment, let us join as one community. We are united in one goal in making this city the city that it could be, should be, can be, and will be.”

The Houston Chronicle later published a comic with the title “The Gay Agenda, REVEALED,” showing the-newly elected Parker carting in boxes labeled “transportation,” “economy” and “pensions.”

Parker won with help from her “secret weapon,” LGBTQ+ Victory Fund and LGBTQ+ Victory Institute. She had gone through LGBTQ+ Victory Institute’s Candidate & Campaign Training, and when she was Houston’s city controller in 2005, she participated in the Bohnett Leaders Fellowship at the Harvard Kennedy School. LGBTQ+ Victory Fund endorsed Parker in all of her past campaigns for local office. She served six years as controller, six years as an at-large member of the city council, and as mayor from 2010 to 2016.

Mayor Annise Parker on the campaign trail when running for reelection.

“The most powerful political thing we can do is to come out on an individual basis,” Parker said. “Every one of us makes a difference. But when public officials come out and publicly advocate, we have ways to touch people’s lives that other people cannot. The impact is magnified.”

Parker became President & CEO of LGBTQ+ Victory Fund and LGBTQ+ Victory Institute in 2017 – the first former elected official to serve in the role.

Obama White House Prioritizes LGBTQ Representation in Appointments

Amanda Simpson speaks at an LGBTQ+ pride event at McNamara Headquarters Complex in June 2016.
Amanda Simpson speaks at an LGBTQ+ pride event at McNamara Headquarters Complex in June 2016.

From the jump, the Obama Administration sought to include and emphasis out voices in federal positions. Several out trans voices joined the federal branch, including Amanda Simpson as Senior Technical Advisor in the Bureau of Industry and Security and Dylan Orr as special assistant to assistant secretary of labor in the Office of Disability Employment Policy at the Department of Labor. Both Simpson and Orr made history as the first out trans people presidentially appointed to the executive branch of any administration.

The Obama Administration also appointed John Berry as Director of the Office of Personnel Management, becoming the highest-ranking out LGBTQ+ official to serve in the executive branch in any U.S. Administration, and later, as the Ambassador to Australia. He was unanimous confirmed by the U.S. Senate both times. Fred P. Hochberg also served in the highest ranks of government, serving two terms as Chairman and President of the Export–Import Bank of the United States.

America’s First Black Lesbian Lawmaker Elected in Georgia

LGBTQ+ Victory Institute Candidate & Campaign Training alumna Simone Bell was elected to the Georgia state legislature in 2009 after winning a heated special election, making history as the first Black out lesbian elected to a state legislature. She proudly represented Georgia House District 58 in Atlanta, Georgia and was a constant advocate for LGBTQ+ equality. Bell was named House Minority Chief Deputy Whip for the Georgia House Democratic Caucus in November 2014. When she resigned to take a job with Lambda Legal in October 2015, she urged out queer Park Cannon to replace her so the seat would stay in LGBTQ+ hands. Cannon won the seat in March 2016.

President Obama Appoints America’s First LGBTQ+ U.S. Attorney

After her groundbreaking appointment by President Barack Obama in 2009, Jenny Durkan made history as America’s first out LGBTQ+ U.S. Attorney when she was unanimously confirmed by the Senate to serve in the Western District of Washington. While in the post, she created a Civil Rights Department in the Western District, and grew to national prominence as a leader in the prosecution of cyber crimes. Durkan served in the post until 2014.

Upon her resignation, Attorney General Eric Holder praised her work:

“Jenny has been an exceptional leader in the Justice Department’s fight against cyber-crime. Jenny Durkan exemplifies the highest standards of personal integrity and professional excellence.”

In 2017, Durkan was elected the first out lesbian mayor of Seattle.

Harvey Milk Honored by the White House

Stuart Milk accepts the Presidential Medal of Freedom on behalf of Harvey Milk from President Barack Obama.
Stuart Milk accepts the Presidential Medal of Freedom on behalf of Harvey Milk from President Barack Obama.

Thanks to the advocacy of the Harvey Milk Foundation, California passed legislation designating each May 22nd (Harvey’s birthday) as Harvey Milk Day. The Harvey Milk Foundation urged supporters to use the day to “recognize and reward equality champions.” The first Harvey Milk Day was celebrated in 2010.

In August of 2009, President Obama honored Milk’s legacy posthumously by awarding him the nation’s highest civilian medal, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The White House issued the following statement, saying:

“Harvey Bernard Milk dedicated his life to shattering boundaries and challenging assumptions. As one of the first openly gay elected officials in this country, he changed the landscape of opportunity for the nation's gay community. Throughout his life, he fought discrimination with visionary courage and conviction. Before his tragic death in 1978, he wisely noted, "Hope will never be silent," and called upon Americans to stay true to the guiding principles of equality and justice for all. Harvey Milk's voice will forever echo in the hearts of all those who carry forward his timeless message.”

Brian Bond named Deputy Director of the Office of Public Engagement

After several years at the helm of LGBTQ+ Victory Fund and LGBTQ+ Victory Institute and leading LGBTQ+ outreach at the Democratic National Committee, Brian Bond was appointed by President Barack Obama as deputy director of the White House Office of Public Liaison as well as the first official LGBTQ White House liaison. While at the White House, Bond worked on all of the Obama Administration’s major efforts to ensure LGBTQ+ rights—dropping its legal defense of DOMA, protecting the federal workforce from discrimination via an executive order and passing a hate crimes bill—before leaving the position in 2011.

LGBTQ+ Victory Fund Endorsed Candidates in 2009

LGBTQ+ Victory Fund endorsed 78 candidates in 2009.


Karin Uhlich (D), Tucson City Council, Dist 3, Arizona

Tom Simplot (D), Phoenix City Council, Dist 4, Arizona

Ginny Foat (D), Palm Springs City Council, California

Stephanie O'Brien (D), Lagunitas School Board, California

Jose Cisneros (D), San Francisco Treasurer, California

John Duran (D), West Hollywood City Council, California

Robert Garcia (D), Long Beach City Council, California

Jeff Prang (D), West Hollywood City Council, California

Michael Gongora (D), Miami Beach Commission, III, Florida

Steve Kornell (D), St. Petersburg City Council- 5, Florida

Anthony Niedwiecki (D), Oakland Park City Council, Florida

Simone Bell (D), Georgia House - D58, Georgia

Brian Bates (R), Doraville City Council , Georgia

Alex Wan (D), Atlanta City Council Dist. 6, Georgia

Scott Hall (R), Jacksonville Board of Aldermen, Illinois

Denise Simmons (D), Cambridge City Council, Massachusetts

Tim Purington (D), Holyoke City Council, Massachusetts

Ken Reeves (D), Cambridge City Council, Massachusetts

Patrick Wojahn (D), College Park City Council, Maryland

Terry Kuseske (D), Kalamazoo City Council, Michigan

Charles Pugh (D), Detroit City Council, Michigan

Carol Becker (D), Board of Estimate and Taxation, Minnesota

Jim Llanas (D), Maplewood City Council, Minnesota

Gary Schiff (D), Minneapolis City Council, Minnesota

Shane Cohn (D), St. Louis Alderman, Ward 25, Missouri

Barbara Baier (D), Lincoln School Board, Seat 3, Nebraska

Reed Gusciora (D), NJ General Assembly, 15th Dist. , New Jersey

Len Resto (R), Chatham City Council, New Jersey

Kathy Herrera (D), Tompkins County Legislature- 5, New York

Rosie Mendez (D), New York City Council- Dist 2, New York

Christine Quinn (D), NY City Council, New York

Barbara Smith (D), Albany Common Council, New York

Danny Dromm (D), New York City Council- Dist 25, New York

Matt Haag (D), Rochester City Council, New York

James Van Bramer (D), New York City Council- Dist 26, New York

Ken Zalewski (D), Troy City Council, Dist 5, New York

Nickie Antonio (D), Lakewood City Council, Ohio

Sandra Kurt (D), Akron City Council - Ward 8, Ohio

Joe Lacey (D), Dayton School Board, Ohio

Mark Tumeo (D), Cleveland Heights City Council, Ohio

Sharyn Keiser (D), New Hope City Council, Pennsylvania

Lori Schreiber (D), Abington Township Commission, Pennsylvania

Dan Anders (D), Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, Pennsylvania

Karl Marking (D), Coatesville City Council Ward 4, Pennsylvania

Dawn Segal, Municipal Court of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Daniel Miller (D), Harrisburg City Controller, Pennsylvania

Sue Lovell (D), Houston City Council, Texas

Annise Parker (NP), Mayor, Houston City , Texas

Joel Burns (NP), Fort Worth City Council, Dist 9, Texas

Adam Ebbin (D), VA Delegate, Dist 49, Virginia

Paul Smedburg (D), Alexandria City Council, Virginia

Fred Chang (D), Port Orchard City Council, Washington

Rob Holland (D), Seattle Port Commission, 3, Washington

Dave Kaplan (R), Des Moines City Council, Washington


Elica Burns-Macon (D), Birmingham Board of Ed, Alabama

Howard Bayless (D), Birmingham City Council, Alabama

Dave Carden (D), Palm Springs City Council, California

Henry Lo (D), Rosemead City Council, California

Anthony Woods (D), US House - CA -10, California

Meyer Persow (D), Cape Henlopen School Board, Delavare

Coleman Prewitt (D), Fort Lauderdale City Commission, Florida

Sherry Roberts (D), Miami Beach Commission, II, Florida

Lane Lewis (D), Houston City Council, Georgia

Adam Brackman (D), Atlanta City Counsil Post 1, Georgia

Eric Morrow (D), East Point City Council, Georgia

Kyle Williams (D), Decatur City Commission - D2, Georgia

Steven Camara (D), Mayor of Fall River, Massachusetts

Amaad Rivera (I), Springfield City Council, Massachusetts

Scott Klein (D), Hamtramck City Council, Michigan

Jack Zatz (R), Marlboro Township Council, New Jersey

Jo Meleca- Voigt (D), Monroe County Legislature, New York

Lynn Schulman (D), NY City Council, New York

Bob Zuckerman (D), NY City Council, Dist 39, New York

Jay Smith (D), Medina City Council, Ohio

Hugh McGough (D), Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, Pennsylvania

David Glasgow (NP), Nashville Metro Council, Tennessee

Maverick Welsh (D), Houston City Council, Dist H, Texas

Jeff Kingsbury (D), Olympia City Council, Washington

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