It was a very verklempt morning at Minneapolis’ City Hall. The mayor cried, the brides cried, the grooms cried, as did several City Council members, security guards and a few members of the press corps.
Thursday morning R.T. Rybak introduced the first two couples he will marry Aug. 1, when same-sex marriages can begin in Minnesota. The first are Cathy ten Broeke and Margaret Miles, who will be wed the second the clock strikes midnight on the sweeping staircase in the City Hall rotunda.
“There’s almost no public servant I admire more than Cathy ten Broeke,” said Rybak, introducing ten Broeke, who was the city’s longtime point person on efforts to end homelessness before taking over the state’s effort.
She and Miles met at St. Stephens Human Services, where Miles still works, and had a commitment ceremony 12 years ago. A few days later, ten Broeke began a new job with the city. On that first day she had to fill out some forms that asked her marital status.
Had to check ‘single’ box after commitment ceremony
“I’ve never seen Cathy choked up,” Rybak said. “She had to check the box ‘single’ the day after her honeymoon.”
“It’s hard to express what it feels like to know that our beloved Minnesota recognizes our love,” said ten Broeke. “We are especially grateful as parents, knowing that our son’s generation will grow up knowing not only that they are held in the arms of a loving community, but are also embraced by the protections and privileges that this legal recognition gives.”
Their son, Louie, is 5.
Mayor and brides thus reduced to tears, Rybak introduced city residents Al Giraud and Jeff Isaacson, who have been together since meeting at a Tampa Bay Buccaneers game in 2002.
An emotional Giraud thanked the coalition of gay-rights groups that pushed for marriage rights and Edie Windsor, the plaintiff in a case that ended Wednesday with a U.S. Supreme Court order that struck down much of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
Forty ceremonies before 6 a.m.
After the two couples introduced Thursday morning are wed, Rybak will conduct 38 more ceremonies in a marathon that will go on until 6 a.m. As the ceremonies proceed, the number of years the individuals involved have been waiting will be added to a scoreboard.
The timing of the announcement was not accidental. The annual Twin Cities Pride celebration that takes place this weekend will take on a special significance this year.
“This has been a huge project, and a labor of love — quite literally,” Rybak said, thanking his staff for stepping up to help him fulfill a promise — to start marrying all comers Aug. 1 — made in the throes of excitement moments after the state Senate passed the historic marriage bill in May.
“I obviously was so excited at the Legislature that I jumped the gun and put out a call,” he said. “I shouted to the crowd, much to the chagrin of my staff.”
‘So much better’
The mayor teared up again, recalling a family he ran into that day in the Capitol rotunda. After the vote, two women and a 7-year-old boy came racing after Rybak, who recognized them from the night two years before when all had been at the Capitol to protest the Legislature’s decision to put an amendment that would ban same-sex marriage in the state constitution.
“This feels really horrible today,” Rybak told the boy. “But it’s gonna feel so much better when the law changes.”
“You’re right,” the boy told Rybak last month, “it does feel so much better.”
The nearby Hotel Minneapolis is donating a wee-hours reception space, the Betty Crocker division of General Mills will supply cake, and several musical acts, including the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus, will perform. The general public is invited, but priority admission to the rotunda — grand in ambiance but not size — will be given to families of the couples.