HOUSTON -

Houston Mayor Annise Parker becomes the first married, openly gay mayor of a major city. On Thursday, she married her longtime partner, Kathy Hubbard. 

The two were married in Palm Springs, California where gay marriage is legal.  A family friend says the two have enjoyed vacationing in Palm Springs in the past. 

"It really was quite moving to be there and to be part and to witness it.  It really has been a long time coming," said longtime friend Judge Steve Kirkland. Kirkland was an attendant who walked the mayor's mother into the wedding. 

Kirkland told Local 2, "She has been like a sister to me.  So it would be hard to imagine not being there."

Kirkland said it was a small gathering of less than 20 people. Parker proclaimed her happiness on Twitter, on Thursday, saying, "I am privileged to now be the wife of the woman I have loved for more than 2 decades.  I couldn't be happier.  We said our vows today."

Back in Texas where gay marriage is not legal, the head of the Harris County Republican party blasted Parker. 

Chair Jared Woodfill said, "This is a mayor who clearly has pursued her own personal political agenda at the expense of what the people of the state of Texas have said marriage is."

Parker's office released the following statement:

"Mayor Annise Parker and her long-time partner, First Lady Kathy Hubbard, were joined in marriage today in a sunset ceremony held at a private home in Palm Springs, California. A small gathering of family and friends, including the mayor's mother and Ms. Hubbard's sister, were on hand for the exchange of vows, which were presided over by the Reverend Paul Fromberg, a family friend from San Francisco. Two other close friends from Houston, Judge Steve Kirkland and Mr. Mark Parthie, served as the attendants and formal witnesses. Mayor Parker and the First Lady selected January 16th for their wedding because it marks the 23rd anniversary of the start of their lives together.

"This is a very happy day for us," said Mayor Parker. "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. She is the love of my life and I can't wait to spend the rest of my life married to her.

"Ms. Hubbard has other insurance options available to her and will, therefore, not participate in the new policy granting city health insurance benefits to the spouses of legally-married city employees."