Seattle has elected its first openly gay mayor.
Defeating current Mayor Mike McGinn with 56% of the vote Tuesday night, longtime state legislator Ed Murray promised a turn in the political tide after four years under Mayor McGinn.
“We are here tonight to declare victory,” Murray said as he took the stage with his partner Michael Shiosaki, whom he married this past summer.
“18 years ago yesterday, I took the oath of office for the first time,” Murray said to a crowd of his supporters in Seattle. “And those two days are linked because both of them are empowered by a simple belief—that while government can’t solve our problems, government can be a partner in solving the challenges that we face.”
For years, State Sen. Murray led efforts to legalize gay marriage in the state of Washington. Murray laid the path for marriage equality in the state by pursuing and successfully passing a non-discrimination bill, an anti-bullying bill, legislation allowing civil unions and finally a law legalizing same-sex marriage.
In 2009, Washington became the first state in the country to pass a state-wide ballot measure that approved civil unions between same-sex couples, and last year, the state approved a same-sex marriage referendum, becoming one of three states to legalize same-sex marriage in 2012.
In a predominantly liberal city, both mayoral candidates took largely progressive stances, campaigning for a $15 minimum wage in the city and promising efforts to legalize marijuana. But in the weeks leading up to the campaign, Murray led McGinn by double digits.
Washington state elections are done by mail, and voters’ ballots needed to be postmarked by Tuesday.
Murray spoke of his unwavering belief in public service Tuesday night. “Those who sacrifice for us as public servants are not our enemies but our friends,” Murray said.
As House Transportation Committee chairman, Murray also led efforts pass two transportation improvement revenue packages in 2003 and in 2005.
Murray joins Houston Mayor Annise Parker, another openly gay mayor of a large U.S. city, who won re-election for a third and final term Tuesday. Houston, which has nearly 2.1 million residents according to the Census Bureau, continues to be the largest city in the country led by an openly gay public official.