Cathy ten Broeke and Margaret Miles, joined by their 5-year-old son Louie, were the first couple married by R.T. Rybak at City Hall at midnight Aug. 1 — the moment the state’s new law legalizing same-sex marriage went into effect.
Wearing the same dresses they did for their wedding 12 years ago at a church in the Whittier neighborhood, the couple exchanged tearful vows while their son looked on along with Rybak and Rev. James Gertmenian of the Plymouth Congregational Church, who also presided over their wedding.
When Miles emphasized the word “lawfully” when she said she took ten Broeke to be her “lawfully wedded wife,” the crowd at City Hall cheered with excitement.
Their son was the ring bearer and at many moments during the ceremony he charmed the wedding guests by waving to people. Gertmenian told Rybak he might have found his “next predecessor.”
Rybak praised the couple for their work in the community, too, after they exchanged their vows. Miles is the communications director for St. Stephen’s Human Services and ten Broeke is the state’s Director to Prevent and End Homelessness.
“A mayor is supposed to and I do love every single member of my community, but I honestly have to say I know almost no one that I respect more than the two of you,” Rybak said. “Your story is so powerful to me because you met doing what you do everyday, which is doing great things for other people with some of the greatest needs. You worked together at St. Stephen’s. You made a commitment to other people and that made your commitment grow every single day. So it’s a tremendous honor to do be able to do what we’re about to do and to share this with you.”
Then Rybak realized the clock was still a few minutes shy of midnight so they had musicians play a song and then finally, it was time, and the couple joined hands while Louie stood between them.
“Margaret and Cathy, by the power now finally vested in me,” Rybak said, as the crowd once again erupted in cheers. “By the laws of the people of Minnesota I hereby declare that Margaret and Cathy are legally married. You may kiss the bride.”
They embraced, then kissed Louie and hugged Rybak and Gertmenian.
Nearly 1,000 people packed into City Hall, which was decorated with white roses for the historic night.
Al Giraud and Jeff Isaacson were the second couple married by Rybak. They were first in line to get a marriage license when they become available June 6 at the Hennepin County Government Center.
Following the first two weddings, the couples were joined by their families and friends on the steps in front of the Father of Waters statue. Media crews circled them eager to interview them about their nuptials.
After a performance by musician Jeremy Messersmith, 44 other couples were married by Rybak. All told, the couples waited 734 years to be legally married, according to city leaders. Seven of the couples married by the mayor had been together for more than three decades.
Dorothy Edie and Jacqueline Gehdes were the final couple married. The marathon of weddings ended around 6:45 a.m.
“We made history, but most importantly, what we did last night will soon become the norm,” Rybak said.
State Sen. Scott Dibble, the author of the Senate marriage equality bill, and Hennepin County Judges Peter Albrecht, Peter Cahill, Elizabeth Cutter, Margaret Daly, Daniel Mabley, David Piper and Edward Wahl officiated 21 other weddings in City Council chambers.
Gov. Mark Dayton, who signed the marriage equality bill into law on the steps of the state Capitol on May 14, also spoke at City Hall before the weddings started.
“The real credit for this transformative event in Minnesota goes to all of you, all of the LGBT men and women throughout Minnesota who had the courage to stand up and say we want the same rights as every other American,” Dayton said, who also went on to praise the legislators who championed the marriage equality legislation. “It’s our constitutional right. It’s our moral right. It’s our American right to marry the person we love.”
Sen. Al Franken also gave a bouquet of roses to each couple with the following note: “I give these to Franni every year on our anniversary and so far it’s worked. Wishing you as much happiness as we’ve had over the years. Congratulations!”
Many local companies and professionals donated goods and services for the weddings, including cakes from Betty Crocker and wedding receptions for the couples at Hotel Minneapolis.
Rhode Island also had a marriage equality go into effect Aug. 1 — bringing the total number of states in the country that allow same-sex marriage to 13.
“Today over 90 million Americans now live in states with full marriage equality,” said Mary Rouse, the Human Rights Campaign’s national field director, in a statement issued Aug. 1. “As we march toward full LGBT equality nationwide, Minnesota serves as a shining example of the progress being made, and the growing support for fairness that exists all across this country.”
(To see a video by The Uptake of Miles and ten Broeke's wedding, click here.)
(Below: a video of Gov. Mark Dayton's remarks before the weddings started.)