All Things Considered

Minneapolis' first legally married same-sex couple reflects on a decade of gay marriage

Two women pose for a photo on a couch
Cathy ten Broeke (left) and her wife Margaret Miles pose for a photo inside the Kling Public Media Center in St. Paul on Tuesday.
Ben Hovland | MPR News

Ten years ago Tuesday, Margaret Miles and Cathy ten Broeke were married on the steps of Minneapolis City Hall by then-Mayor R.T. Rybak. They were the first Minneapolis couple to tie the knot after same-sex marriage became legal in Minnesota.

The law was so fresh, Rybak had to stretch his sentences so he could declare them married at exactly the stroke of midnight.

“The power of that moment, that was very little about us and [more] about the state of Minnesota — a community that was embracing love. And so to me, this feels like the 10th anniversary of love winning,” said ten Broeke. “Happy anniversary, Minnesota. What an incredible gift you gave to us, and what an incredible gift you gave to, now, thousands of couples who are legally married in Minnesota.”

“I was really nervous about the whole public aspect of it, being more of the introvert in the relationship,” Miles said. But ten Broeke happened to be in the right place at the right time.

Now assistant commissioner and executive director of the Minnesota Interagency Council on Homelessness, ten Broeke was in the rotunda when then-Gov. Mark Dayton signed HF 1054 into law.

She was standing next to Rybak, who decided then and there that he would marry dozens of same-sex couples when it went into effect. From there it was settled: ten Broeke and Miles would be the first.

As for having to share their wedding anniversary with such a momentous occasion, the couple said they don’t look at it that way. They’d committed to one another in a wedding ceremony in 2001, before the state recognized same-sex marriages.

They still celebrate that date each March. On Aug. 1, they celebrate “being a part of something so much bigger than us,” ten Broeke said, as well as the wedding their son Louie got to be a part of.

“Getting to know his generation, his great circle of friends, I feel so much hope and optimism,” Miles said. “This is our marriage and who we are is pretty much a non-issue — and maybe sort of a boring history at this point — and that's OK.”

“One of the things [Rybak] said that night that has always stuck with me is, ‘What is tonight historic will now become the norm.’ And I think for Louie and his friends, frankly, this is the norm,” ten Broeke added.

Thumbs up
Margaret Miles, left, Cathy ten Broeke and their son, Louis Miles ten Broeke, 5, give a thumbs up during a wedding cake-testing at General Mills in Golden Valley, Minn.
Jeffrey Thompson | MPR News

But she said there is also more work to do.

“We can never take these these moments in our history for granted and we have to continue to fight for each other,” ten Broeke said. “What's been really striking to us is watching the conversation around transgender issues in our country. We can't take our eye off the ball. We can't stop organizing, we can't stop having the conversation of why love and our connection to each other is so important.”

After 10 years of weathering good times and bad with ten Broeke, Miles said it’s simple: “Everybody should have the right to experience the ups and the downs together.”

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