Mayor Parker and Kathy Annise Parker is the Mayor of Houston, Texas, and the first openly gay mayor of a major US city. She and her partner, Kathy Hubbard, have been together for 23 years. They are the parents of four children, two adopted bi-racial daughters, a god-daughter and an African-American son. As Kathy explains, “Jovan (their son) found us. He was 16 and roaming the 1994 Pride Festival grounds, carrying his duffle, after his grandparents booted him out of the house for being gay. Annise knew him from talks she had given to LGBTQ youth groups, and gave him the key to our home. Then she caught up with me and told me what she had done!” Two girls, now 18 and 23, were adopted at the ages of seven and 12. Half-sisters, they were placed separately in very religious foster homes, and both sets of foster parents made serious attempts to disrupt the adoptions. The 12-year-old was given the choice to be adopted, but the foster parents told the seven-year-old she would “go to hell” if she went to live with two lesbians. Not one to let hostility stand in her way, Annise, then a member of Houston’s City Council, brought together representatives from the appropriate agencies for reasonable negotiations and soon her family was larger by a factor of two. Their god-daughter, 19, moved in with them to attend high school with her best friend, their youngest daughter, and these two still live with the couple. Although advised by political consultants against adopting bi-racial children, the couple forged ahead. Rather than seclude the girls, they made sure that their multi-racial family was a visible example of love to the citizens of Houston. No closet of any size or type is able to hold back Annise Parker and Kathy Hubbard. As Kathy says, “We are so far out of the closet that we live on the front lawn.” Annise and Kathy live a life of service, not only to their community but also to their family. When asked how they have stayed together for 23 years, they had a clear answer: “communication, commitment and patience.” Their home is a haven for those who need them. After living together for only a year, the couple opened their arms and home to Annise’s 90-year-old grandparents who came to live with them. She says, “It was Kathy who helped me change my grandfather's diapers.” (From personal experience, I know what an enormous act of love and commitment it is to care for an aging relative.) Annise had been in public office for 12 years before being elected mayor, serving first as a city councilmember and then as controller, and her election was clearly based on her reputation for service, and not her gender or homosexuality. She is used to being asked what it’s like to be an openly gay mayor, not only of a major city, but a major city in an “extremely conservative, very red state.” With swelling pride, she defends the city that she dearly loves: “I love my job. I have the best job in the world. Houston is my hometown. I don’t know of a big city mayor who doesn’t love their city. You have to be in love with your city in order to do it.” She says, “Houston is a global city. Texas has a long tradition of accepting people from anywhere based on what they can do and what they bring to the game. There is a tolerance for strong women with strong personalities and a streak of respecting independence in women.” It is crystal clear that her success as mayor is why she was recently elected for a third term of office. Nevertheless, one Houston pastor has launched a crusade to get her to voluntarily resign because she has “violated her oath of office.” He is particularly incensed that she refers to Kathy as “the First Lady,” who responds, “Who knew that that was the worst thing that I could do?” Two previous First Ladies, however, have embraced Kathy and collaborated with her on important causes and crusades, such as environmental issues. For Annise, Kathy is the most wonderful woman in the world: “She can keep up with me. She understands my passion for public service. She is always supportive, always beside me and yet can still surprise me.” For Kathy, the day Annise was elected in 2009, “sent shock waves around the world. It was a victory for values. She’s there because she is honest. Her election stands up for values because honesty and integrity have been validated. You can be who you are and have the career that you want to and give back to the world what you want to give.” In January, the couple celebrated their 23rd anniversary as a couple by marrying in Palm Springs, CA. For Annise Parker and Kathy Hubbard, Houston is definitely “somewhere over the rainbow” in many, many ways.