I'm pretty sure that for once, my facebook status accurately reflects my mood:
Annise Parker sworn in? Check! All new 2-hour Heroes? Check! Yummy stuffed pork chop dinner? Check! Another damn fine day in Htown.
From the Houston Chronicle:
In her inaugural speech to a packed audience at the Wortham Theater Center, Houston Mayor Annise Parker asked her fellow citizens for their prayers, their patience, their perseverance and, noting that mistakes and failures are inevitable, "for your forgiveness in advance."
While a handful of protesters outside brandished signs invoking the name of God together with anti-gay slurs, Lakewood Church Senior Pastor Joel Osteen gave thanks in an opening prayer for "raising up" Parker.
"We honor her today and other elected officials," he said.
I received the following email from several friends:
From: Lane Lewis
Sent: Sunday, January 03, 2010 11:30 PM
Tomorrow, we may have the opportunity to come in contact with members of Fred Phelps and Westboro Baptist members.
Tomorrow, I encourage each of us to ignore them to the best of our ability because the only thing that satiates their appetite is anger.
Tomorrow, try not to feed the beast.
Tomorrow, they will behave as if Annise's win is their defeat. It isn't.
Tomorrow, we will behave as if Annise's win is our victory. It is.
Tomorrow is not about yesterday's prejudice. What can anyone do about yesterday?
Tomorrow is about all the tomorrow's that will follow. What will you do with yours?
Lane Lewis is my "younger bro" as well as a close friend of Mayor Annise Parker. He was in the run-off for City Council District A and is returning as a Democratic Precinct Chair for Precinct 0448 in Oak Forest as well as the Democratic leadership of Senator John Whitmire's Senate District 15.
Most importantly, Lane has come in contact with Fred Phelps and Westboro Baptist Church "members" from Wichita, Kansas several times over the past twenty years and he knows of what he speaks.
Fortunately, and much to Houston's credit, there were no major incidents.
More from the Chronicle
Parker spoke of her parents and her Spring Branch upbringing, her father working two and three jobs and her mother working, as well, to support the family. On the campaign trail, she said, she came across many Houstonians in similar struggles.
The city of Houston is on your side," she said. "I firmly believe that our city's future will be shaped by our citizens — not our politicians. I welcome your suggestions."
Although she acknowledged in her 23-minute speech that Houston, like ever other city in America, faces budget difficulties, she declared the city "in an enviable position." The budget shortfall, she said, would not affect the current level of city services.
On the stage with the new mayor were five of her predecessors, including Fred Hofheinz, Kathy Whitmire, Lee Brown, Bob Lanier and Bill White. She thanked White for leaving the city "in good shape," while briefly discussing some of the challenges she will face in her first term, including shoring up the city's three pension funds, updating an aging infrastructure and completing a major round of redistricting that will proceed after the U.S. Census Bureau determines the city's population.
The ceremony, held at the Wortham Center was a festive occasion, including music from Houston's Grand Opera Orchestra and the Houston Symphony Orchestra, along with singers from four area choirs. Soprano Barbara Padilla, who was awarded first runner-up last year on "America's Got Talent," led the singing of the Star Spangled Banner and later sang a soaring version of "You'll Never Walk Alone," from the musical "Carousel."
Like other members of Houston's GLBT community, I felt an unmistakable sense of pride; today was especially memorable. Parker acknowledged the historic nature of her election as the first openly gay woman elected mayor of a major American city.
In truth," she said, "Houstonians weren't very surprised that a gay woman was elected. We have a tradition of electing mayors not for who they are but for what they believe we can do as a city."
Speaking to "my community," she said, "I understand how much this day means to you. I can feel your excitement and your joy, but I can also feel your apprehension. . . . I will gladly carry you forward, but today is simply one step for the tomorrow of greater justice."
Parker, 53, said she often is asked to compare Houston to other cities, but that the only city to which she could compare it was "the Houston in my imagination." That city, she said, was a city of neighborhoods "where the police are known and recognized, and they in turn know the neighborhood, and we are all safer. . a city where mass transit really works. . . a city with clean and safe air. . . a city safe from the ravages of flood water. . . a city where the high school drop-out rate is insignificant."
As her first official act as Mayor, Parker will swear in the 14 members of Houston City Council. This evening, a free concert, scheduled from 6 to 9 p.m. January 4, at Discovery Green will begin with Latin favorite Mango Punch and end with chart-topper Jennifer Holliday from the original Broadway version of Dream Girls. In the middle will be an over-the- top soul revue featuring:
• Archie Bell, whose #1 hit Tighten Up got the whole country "dancing just as good as they could walk" back in 1968.
• Roy Head, Texas legend of blue-eyed soul, who took Treat Her Right, recorded in the shadow of downtown, to #2 on the pop charts.
• Yvonne Washington, a soulful songstress who has been a part of generations of celebrations across the city.