"Houston is a multiracial, multicultural, international city. And I think my election will send a message to the world that Houston is a city that might surprise a lot of folks," Parker said before the runoff.
Parker, 53, has never shied away from, nor made an issue of, her sexual orientation. She has been with her partner for 19 years and they have two adopted children.Maybe there's hope for the universe after all.
She was elected to the city council and then spent the past five years as city controller. She ran for mayor on a platform of fiscal conservatism.
"I have always stood up for the fact that I am gay. It's part of the resume that I bring to the table, but it's just a piece of the package," she said.
After the mayoral race entered a runoff, conservatives and anti-gay activists mounted an intense campaign against Parker. Houston residents received flyers in the mail that highlighted Parker's support from gay groups and her relationship with her partner.
"There's a certain segment of Houston, there's a certain segment of society that has problems with the issues around sexual orientation," Parker said. "But the citizens of Houston have elected me six consecutive times to public office. They know me, they trust me.
"I think it's a small and shrinking minority of Houstonians who have that attitude and I look forward to it as being mayor of all of Houston," she said.