Cathy ten Broeke
TB: What was your reaction to the news that Minnesota will support same-sex marriage equality?
CTB: It was a huge relief and extremely powerful and, like for many people, we didn’t know we would so quickly see the legalization of gay marriage. I was blown away by the speed of the last part of that work. Of course the work of equality for gay, lesbian, transgender, and bisexual people has been a long journey and a lot of people spent their entire lives working on it. Some of them never got to see this day come. Our reactions were extreme gratitude for all the people who have been working for this in the careers or by the way they live their lives. We are benefitting from the work of many other people.
TB: What support did you receive from friends and family?
CTB: Margaret and I have been, unlike many people we know, incredibly supported for many years, by our friends, family, and neighbors. We live in very welcoming city – we feel very fortunate. So, the support from friends and family didn’t change, but we did feel the enthusiasm and the joy of the broader community. This would not have happened without very broad community support. Straight allies were critically important – people who didn’t have a personal stake, but spent hours fighting for and caring about this issue.
TB: What did you feel in the moment that you were officially, legally married?
CTB: At the moment we said our vows, at the stroke of midnight, I could feel the presence of the hundreds of other same-sex couples across the state who had been married in other states. They were legally married in Minnesota at that very moment as well.
TB: You have been married for a little over a month now. Has anything changed?
CTB: We have much better health insurance! The feeling and the joy and the connectedness we felt that night will stay with us. We’ve have been committed to each other for many years, but we feel like the broader community and the state is now committed to us as well. It is really some of the little things that have struck us the most since August 1st, like going to the doctor and checking the married box. We feel protected, and we feel like we are now experiencing the rights that everyone should have.
TB: Did you think this day would come in your lifetime?
CTB: Oh, I did think it would come. I certainly didn’t know it was coming so soon in my life time, though. I’m delighted for our 5 year-old son. I think he’ll remember the night. It might even be one of his earliest memories. I don’t think he’ll remember ever thinking that we weren’t married or that we weren’t a family, and I’m most grateful for that. We have talked to him about why this was so important. My son is really interested in the presidents and history, and we have talked a lot to him about Martin Luther King and the struggle for civil rights. We explained that while we were always fully committed to each other as a family and while friends and family have always recognized our marriage, the government hadn’t recognized it yet. Until now. We think he understands it actually. At least to some degree.
TB: Speaking of your son, how did Louie react to the evening?
CTB: He loved it. He was over the moon, waving to everyone, and I don’t think he’ll forget the joy and celebration. He got to stay up until 2.00 a.m. and eat cake!
TB: What is next?
CTB: It was such an incredible night. But now we have gone back to doing those everyday things that all families do. We went back to mowing our lawn, walking the dog, getting Louie ready for kindergarten, but doing it knowing that we are now held in a much larger embrace.
That night, there was an incredibly energy in the room that was so much bigger than us. I’m grateful for it and for the fact that young people who are growing up now will feel more accepted and loved for who they are. Hopefully they won’t be questioning if they are whole or good. They are going to know that they have every right to love and be married – regardless of whom they love.