Historic vows

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July 2, 2013 // UPDATED 9:24 am - July 3, 2013
By: Sarah McKenzie
Margaret Miles (left), Cathy ten Broeke and their son, Louie, at their home in Linden Hills.
Photo by Brent Nelson
Sarah McKenzie
Margaret Miles and Cathy ten Broeke will be the first same-sex couple married at City Hall on Aug. 1.

The way Margaret Miles and Cathy ten Broeke see it, if you’re lucky like them, you get the chance to get married twice.

The couple’s first wedding took place in 2001 in front of more than 200 friends and family at St. Stephen’s Church in the Whittier neighborhood. Now they are preparing for their second wedding. This time, their union will be recognized by the state of Minnesota.

Miles and ten Broeke will be the first couple married by Mayor R.T. Rybak at City Hall on Aug. 1.

They will be wearing the same wedding dresses they did for their first wedding, their 5-year-old son Louie will be sporting a tuxedo and once again, many of their friends and relatives will be there to witness their commitment to each other.

The couple said they are honored and humbled to be part of the weddings planned for Aug. 1 — the day the new state law legalizing same-sex marriage goes into effect. 

“I feel like the city is marrying us,” Miles said during a recent interview with ten Broeke at the couple’s home in Linden Hills. “I feel like I’ve been in a 72-hour hug with the City of Minneapolis.”

Ten Broeke said that while their commitment ceremony in 2001 was a joyous and an exciting time, planning for this wedding brings with it different and powerful emotions.

“I don’t think it’s about being the first couple at all,” she said. “That’s very fun and we’re so honored, but the thing that is so powerful about the whole night is being part of history.”

Rybak introduced Miles and ten Broeke, along with Al Giraud and Jeff Isaacson, the second same-sex couple to be married at City Hall, at a news conference June 27. Rybak will officiate the weddings shortly after midnight and will then conduct approximately 40 other weddings between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m.

“This is deeply personal. It means more than just a ceremony,” Rybak said, who added he never thought he’d get the chance to officiate same-sex weddings during his tenure as mayor. “This is one of the most powerful things I’ve ever gotten to do. I’ve known so many people who have had their rights jeopardized by this, including two chiefs of staff and my communications director who have all worked right next to me in committed relationships like I am, but they don’t have as many rights as I do. … There are so many times when I see how logical and how incredibly important this is.”

Rybak ran into ten Broeke at the state Capitol earlier this year and she mentioned they were thinking about having another wedding. “My eyes lit up and I said why don’t you do it at City Hall,” he said. “It was clear to me they would be the ideal couple to symbolize all of this.”

Miles and ten Broeke met while working at St. Stephen’s Human Services. Miles is the director of development and communications for St. Stephen’s Human Services and ten Broeke is the state’s Director to Prevent and End Homelessness.

Since their first wedding, they have worked to be vigilant and “married as we could be,” ten Broeke said, especially after Louie’s birth.

After the couple’s honeymoon in Northern Minnesota following their first wedding, ten Broeke started a new job working as an aide for Hennepin County Commissioner Gail Dorfman. When she was filling out paperwork, she had to deny her new partnership.

 “I had to check all the single boxes,” she said. “I had a brand shiny new ring on my finger, and I was so full of joy, and that was crushing.”

She had to check the single boxes again when she took a new job heading up efforts to fight homelessness for the City of Minneapolis and Hennepin County, and again earlier this year when she became the state’s new point person on homelessness.

The Southwest Journal featured Miles and ten Broeke in a story called “Kissing and Wishing" in 2004 about the LGBT community’s push for marriage equality. At that time, same-sex couples like Miles and ten Broeke were facing an uphill battle to get support from government officials to challenge the legal ban on same-sex marriage.

Giraud and Isaacson will be married after ten Broeke and Miles at City Hall. They were the first couple in line to get a marriage license at the Hennepin County Government Center on June 6. They met in 2002 at a Tampa Bay Buccaneers football game and have been together ever since. They had a commitment ceremony in Tampa in 2005 and moved to Minneapolis in 2008.

“We, our friends and our family have seen us as married since our commitment ceremony eight years ago, but being legally married in our hometown of Minneapolis not only will give us the same rights as any other citizen, but will affirm our relationship in the eyes of our city and community,” the couple said. “We had considered traveling to Iowa to get married, but we had faith that Minnesota would welcome us before long. We couldn’t be happier that the day is now so near.”

The Hotel Minneapolis plans to host a late-night reception for couples free of charge and is offering discounts on room rates for couples who tie the knot at City Hall. Musicians Jeremy Messersmith, the Cooper Street Brass Quintet and the Gay Men’s Chorus will be performing at City Hall during the weddings. There will be wedding cakes, too, provided by the Betty Crocker division of General Mills.

Miles and ten Broeke said they are so grateful for all of the work done in recent years on marriage equality, particularly Minnesota United for All Families’ campaign to defeat the proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage on the ballot last fall.

“It feels like being able to walk through the door from a dreadful past to what Cathy described as walking into the bright light of love and justice,” Miles said. “What an honor it is to cross that threshold.”

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To see a video of Rybak's June 27 press conference detailing the Aug. 1 City Hall wedding festivities, click here