Houston Mayor Annise Parker marries long-time partner in California wedding
HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Houston Mayor Annise Parker married her long-time partner, Kathy Hubbard, in a California wedding Thursday.
Eyewitness News was the only Houston television station in Palm Springs for the wedding, and Mayor Parker told us shortly after she tied the knot that her wedding was "lovely."
"We had a beautiful day," Parker told us.
The city of Houston says Parker and Hubbard were married before a small group of people Thursday on the 23rd anniversary of their relationship. Parker's mother and Hubbard's sister were on hand for the exchange of vows, which were presided over by the Reverend Paul Fromberg, a family friend from San Francisco.
"Tell me how it feels for you to be here today to attend this ceremony," Reporter Sonia Azad asked Parker's aunt, Evelyn Parker.
"Oh absolutely glorious. I didn't get to make her inauguration last month -- the first I've missed. And the fact that she invited me here is just tremendous. I really can't say enough," she said.
Two other close friends from Houston, Judge Steve Kirkland and Mark Parthie, served as the attendants and formal witnesses.
During a video web chat with ABC13's Ted Oberg back in August of last year, Mayor Parker said she had hoped to get married in Houston.
"I hope someday to have the opportunity to marry the person I've loved and shared my life with for 23 years," said Parker. "I want to do it in Texas, but that might be a long time coming."
Word of the mayor's wedding plans first leaked last month, her press office told Culture Map, "Marriage is a private matter," and repeated the phrase again and again. But the mayor of America's fourth-largest city getting married to her same sex partner is not likely to stay a private matter.
"This is about a bigger political agenda for her," Harris County GOP chair Jared Woodfill said.
Woodfill filed a lawsuit last month after the mayor signed an order extending city employee benefits to same sex spouses married in states that recognize them.
Hubbard has a successful business and may not need the insurance, but when the couple returns to Houston, Hubbard would be eligible.
"The fact she is going to another state and then will come back and live and enjoy the benefits of her unilateral, executive, unlawful order represents, that really the worst in a politician," Woodfill said.
Politically, it may not hurt Parker, who wants to run for statewide office. Texas polls show increasing support for gay marriage; 46 percent of Houstonians support full marriage rights; 39 percent of all Texans do. Both numbers are on the rise.
"She's never really wanted to make this a political issue," Rice University Political Scientist Mark Jones said.
Our newlywed mayor is now in her last term, and Jones tells us she is branching out.
"Now that she doesn't have to run for re-election as mayor and now she's expanding and broadening her scope, I think she feels freer to explore it as a policy issue without politicizing it," he said.
In addition to Woodfill's lawsuit, gay rights activists are suing to make sure the benefits are honored.
On Friday, Senator Dan Patrick released the following statement about Mayor Parker's wedding that reads, in part:
- "I am not shocked that Mayor Parker decided to elope to California for a marriage that is unconstitutional in Texas. This is obviously part of a larger strategy of hers to turn Texas into California. She waited until after her November election to decree that the City of Houston will recognize same-sex marriages from other states. The Texas State Constitution defines marriage as between one man and one woman and Mayor Parker cannot change that."
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