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Congratulations to Mayor Annise Parker and First Lady Kathy Hubbard
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 01/17/14
Last updated on: 01/17/14
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Mayor Annise Parker (right) and First Lady Kathy Hubbard.

Congratulations to Houston Mayor Annise Parker and First Lady Kathy Hubbard, who wed in a ceremony at a private home in Palm Springs, California on January 16, 2014. The wedding came on the couple's 23rd anniversary.

Mike Morris reports in the Houston Chronicle that the ceremony was held at sunset and was attended by a small group of family and friends of the couple, including Parker's mother and Hubbard's sister.

"This is a very happy day for us," said Parker, the first openly gay mayor of the nation's fourth largest city. "We have had to wait a very long time to formalize our commitment to each other. Kathy has been by my side for more than two decades, helping to raise a family, nurture my political career and all of the other ups and down and life events that come with a committed relationship."

The ceremony was performed by Episcopal priest Rev. Paul Fromberg. Formerly the rector of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Houston, he is now the rector of St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco. He is the partner of Parker's longtime political consultant Grant Martin, also formerly of Houston.

Former state District Judge Steve Kirkland and Mark Parthie of Houston, who are longtime friends and business partners of Parker and Hubbard, served as witnesses.

Parker and Hubbard met in 1990 when Hubbard, a tax consultant, stopped by Parker's Montrose bookstore, Inklings, looking for clients. They have two daughters and a son, and their goddaughter lives with them.

Parker had previously said that she would not get married until the union was legal in Texas, but the Supreme Court ruling striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in June 2013 seems to have changed her mind.

"At some point I fully intend to marry [Hubbard]," Parker said in November. "I will say that when the Supreme Court ruling came down, the first person to call me was my youngest daughter, who said, 'Does this mean you're going to go out and marry mommy now?' And I said, 'Well it doesn't exactly mean that because it doesn't change everything.' But, you know, I also am conscious of the messages I send to my own kids."

Houston City Councilwoman Ellen Cohen greeted the news of the marriage happily. "It's wonderful," she said. "They've demonstrated a commitment to each other over all these years. How marvelous it is that they can look forward to a long life together as a married couple. I'm very happy for them."

Others, however, were not so congratulatory. Harris County Republican Party Chairman Jared Woodfill accused Parker of "bringing California and New York values to Texas, and these are values Texans don't subscribe to. Texans have defined their position on marriage in the form of a constitutional amendment."

Woodfill has been involved in lawsuits attempting to challenge Parker's extension of health and life insurance benefits to all spouses of legally married city employees, including same-sex couples.

Soon after her re-election in November 2013 to her third and final term as Mayor of Houston, an election she won with 57 percent of the vote, 30 percent more than her closest opponent in the nine-person field, Parker issued an executive order extending the benefits, effective January 1, 2014.

The order violated the intent if not the letter of a citizens' initiative passed in 2001 to deny benefits to same-sex partners of city employees, but did so by limiting spousal benefits to legally married partners, apparently not foreseeing that same-sex couples would ever be able to be legally married.

In extending the benefits, Parker argued that the United States Supreme Court decision invalidating DOMA supersedes a similar state constitutional amendment in Texas.

Woodfill filed suit in state court alleging that Parker's executive order violates the city charter, the state Defense of Marriage Act, and the Texas Constitution. A tame Republican judge issued a temporary restraining order putting the benefits on hold.

However, City Attorneys and Lambda Legal succeeded in bringing the dispute before a federal judge, who dissolved the state judge's restraining order and the benefits have gone into effect even as the question of whether the mayor acted properly in extending them will be adjudicated.

In announcing their marriage, Parker and Hubbard clarified that Hubbard would not seek insurance benefits from the city.

In the brief video below, Mayor Parker speaks of her experience growing up gay.

In the video below, Houston television station KHOU-TV reports on the nuptials.

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