By Melanie Nathan, August 01, 2013.
Midnight July 31, 2013, heralded the start of an equal Minnesota, as the Mayor of Minneapolis, R.T. Rybak married the first same-sex couple under the new law, making it legal for all couples to enjoy the same legal rights in the State of Minnesota.
After years of battling against the religious right wing attempts to shut LGBT Minnesotans out of the secular civil law which confers legal rights and obligations on same-sex couples, the weddings of 63 couples kicked off the new era of parity. And the speeches and ceremonies conveyed the excitement with many asserting, “at last.”
The smooth well orchestrated program, consisting of speeches and entertainment, took place in the beautiful and historic Minneapolis City Hall Rotunda, one of Minneapolis’ most sought-after venues for weddings, as a thousand enthusiastic guests turned out to celebrate, in an atmosphere charged with joyous celebration.
“Minneapolis welcomes everyone, and in the city that is perfect for love and weddings, we are excited and ready to marry everyone,” Mayor Rybak said. “I am so grateful to the many marvelous people and companies who have so generously donated their goods and services for this historic occasion. They go to show that no matter where you’re from or whom you love, Minneapolis is the perfect choice for your wedding.”
“This is deeply personal. It means more than just a ceremony,” Rybak said. “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.”
The first to marry was Margaret Miles to Cathy ten Broeke, followed by Al Giraud and Jeff Isaacson.
The Mayor mentioned how the couple had met while working at St. Stephen’s Human Services. In 2001, they had a commitment ceremony. The couple stood on the steps of the Rotunda with their adorable 5-year-old son, Louie, who enchanted the crowd of a few thousand, with his waves and hugs.
Miles is the director of development and communications for St. Stephen’s Human Services and ten Broeke is now the state’s Director to Prevent and End Homelessness.
“We have been 100 percent committed as a family for 12 years,” the couple said in a statement.
“The legal recognition of our commitment by our beloved Minnesota means that our family will have the legal support and protection that every family wants. We are deeply grateful 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.”
Giraud and Isaacson 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 Bucaneers 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.”
After the initial ceremony all present were treated to a slice of Betty Crocker cake. Then the rest of the weddings commenced, some taking place with the Mayor officiating on the steps of the Rotunda, and others in the 3rd floor Council Chambers were Judges were on hand to officiate. Musicians played, choirs sang, as that Rotunda was pronounced a place of love and equality. It was a proud Minnesotan moment for all.
May the love and celebrations continue…