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Betty Crocker bakes cakes for state's first same-sex weddings

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Testing wedding cake
Margaret Miles, center, and Cathy ten Broeke share a laugh as their son, Louis Miles ten Broeke, 5, samples wedding cake at General Mills in Golden Valley, Minn. Monday, July 29, 2013. Miles and ten Broeke, who will be the first same-sex couple to be married Aug. 1, 2013 in Minneapolis, joined two other couples to sample cakes for their upcoming weddings.
MPR Photo/Jeffrey Thompson

After trying four different cakes, Anna cleansed her palate with drinks from her sippy cup.

Around the kitchen table, her beaming parents waited for the verdict.

Anna picked chocolate.

With her decision, the nearly 2-year-old did her part to help Minnesota usher in a new era. When same-sex marriage becomes a reality in the state early Thursday, her parents, Reid Bordson and Paul Nolle will be the first gay couple to wed in St. Paul.

Bordson and Noele, who will be among first three couples planning to wed when the clock strikes midnight on Thursday, received a little help planning their wedding today from Betty Crocker.

As a wall of Bettys smiled benignly at the cake-tasters. Bordson noticed the oil paintings of the iconic homemaker, evolving from prim to peppy over the decades -- but always dressed in red.

"It's funny because they almost look like first lady portraits," he said.

Getting cake samples
Paul Nolle, left, Reid Bordson, and their daughter Anna Bordson-Nolle, 1, led a trio of same-sex couples through a cake-testing line Monday, July 29, 2013 at General Mills in Golden Valley, Minn. Nolle and Bordson will be the first same-sex couple to marry Aug 1, 2013 in St. Paul, Minn.
MPR Photo/Jeffrey Thompson

By the time the '90s version of Betty emerged, she had darker eyes and hair.

Betty Crocker brand manager Laura Forero said the image of "Betty" is constantly evolving, but diversity and inclusion are in the brand's DNA.

"Celebrating these three families today, seemed very appropriate as Betty celebrates all families," Forero said.

General Mills, which hosted the cake-tasting, will donate custom cakes for Thursday's ceremonies. The company, which owns the Betty Crocker brand, took a high-profile stance last year against a proposed constitutional amendment that would have made marriage only between a man and a woman, a provision already in state law.

The company's decision sparked a "Dump General Mills" boycott organized by the National Organization for Marriage.

But Minnesota voters rejected the amendment, and in May, the Legislature passed a law legalizing same-sex marriage.

That explained the tasting session in the Betty Crocker kitchen, where after the long political battle in the state over same-sex marriage, picking a cake was the easy part.

Joking about sampling cake
Louise Miles and her nephew Louis Miles ten Broeke, 5, joke together before a wedding cake-testing at General Mills Monday, July 29, 2013, in Golden Valley, Minn. Louis Miles ten Broeke's mothers will be the first same-sex couple to marry in Minneapolis, Aug. 1, 2013.
MPR Photo/Jeffrey Thompson

Al Giraud and Jeff Isaacson were the first couple in line for a wedding license in Hennepin County in June.

"I think we go with the rainbow assortment, right!" Giraud said. "Rainbow, yellow, chocolate."

Margaret Miles and Cathy ten Broeke got some help deciding on their cake from their 5-year-old son Louis, who announced, "I'm full."

Miles and ten Broeke had a big wedding 12 and a half years ago, with lots of friends and family and personal vows they'd written for each other, but that ceremony didn't confer any legal rights. The midnight ceremony at City Hall in Minneapolis, Miles said, will be different:

"We call it "Margaret and Cathy's wedding 2.0," she said, "this time with rights!"

Miles is struck by how their lives have already changed by what's about to happen.

"We have had people come up to us in grocery stores that we didn't know, people wave to us, they recognized us from the paper when this was announced and people burst into tears," she said. "And what's so meaningful is to be the carriers of that joy, and to represent this moment in our state's history."

Miles and ten Broeke will be the first of 42 couples the mayor will marry in City Hall on Thursday morning, the first day gay couples can legally marry in the state.