Longtime-friend Jennifer Tammi
JT: I met Cathy my first day at Gustavus. She and her freshman roommate,Lizanne Hart (with whom we are still close friends), stopped by my room to say hello. We all lived on the 1st floor in Sorenson Hall. My dad (class of ’63) and I were knee-deep in trying to build a loft and we asked Cathy and Lizanne if they knew anyone with extra screws. With a smile on their faces, they promised to seek some out for us. Cathy’s cheerful nature and willingness to help anyone was evident from day one. Cathy and I soon became very close friends. We were roommates from sophomore year through senior year and then we got an apartment together in Minneapolis our first year out of college. We then both decided to teach in China the following year and while we didn’t ask to be placed in the same city, we not only both landed jobs in Chengdu but we were hired by the same university.
JT: Cathy had had several serious relationships before Margaret. While they were all lovely people, I was immediately drawn to Margaret the first time I met her. What became clear to me very early on in their relationship was that Cathy was herself with Margaret. Or, perhaps another way to put it is that each of them provides the space for the other to be their best selves. I should also add that I have never laughed as hard as I have with the two of them together. There is so much joy in their lives.
JT: The day after the ceremony on August 1, we talked about this very thing. What this means for Cathy and Margaret is that they don’t have to work so hard to protect their family. I remember when they had Louie and how much work they had to go through to make sure that Margaret had as many legal connections to their son as possible. Despite all of that work they still worried that someday Margaret’s position as Louie’s mother might be challenged. I also remember a time when Cathy and Margaret were on a trip together and one of them had to go to a hospital. Because they were not legally considered family, the other one was not allowed access. That was so frustrating and heart-breaking for them both. This law will allow them the right to be the family they are – in all ways. I think they will breathe easier when they step outside their house and interact with the world.
TB: Did you attend their commitment ceremony? What differences did you feel from their wedding this past August and from their commitment ceremony 12 years ago?
JT: Yes, I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the commitment ceremony on August 1. The difference between the two was that this was a celebration that could be so public. Their marriage 12 years ago was wonderful — lots of love and support from family and friends. It was a typical wedding with wonderful music, beautiful vows and a toast-filled reception but it was not a ceremony that could be very public. In fact, we all had to be pretty low-key when we left the church after the ceremony so as not to draw attention to the fact that a same-sex marriage had been performed at the church. It is such a contrast to heterosexual weddings in which leaving the church often includes its own kind of ritual and ceremony (usually boisterous and very public). The recent ceremony was the exact opposite! Not only could we be loud and public when leaving city hall but Cathy and Margaret’s pictures have shown up in newspapers around the country and even internationally!
JT: Attending as a friend was like any other wedding — so joyous and happy! I spent the day of the wedding with Cathy, Margaret and Louie. We had a leisurely morning of sitting on their porch, reading the paper and drinking coffee. We walked to Lake Harriet, had lunch next to the water and took Louie to the playground. Then, like many brides, we passed Louie off to his aunt and the three of us went to a spa for manicures and pedicures. It was an afternoon of quietly celebrating them. That evening I joined several of their other friends and family in Cathy and Margaret’s hotel room and we all helped them get ready. It was exciting!
What was different, however, was that when we were leaving the playground near Lake Harriet that afternoon, a woman recognized them and waved and wished them luck. At the co-op near their house someone stopped Cathy to congratulate her and let her know how supportive she and the community were of this moment. It was amazing how strangers reached out and celebrated the moment with them. Witnessing that was incredible.
And then, of course, it was exhilarating to be in the rotunda during the event with rows and rows of people attending and cheering. The joy of that moment was all-encompassing.
TB: What has this historic moment meant for you, and what do you think it says on the future of marriage equality?
JT: It means that not only does my best friend get to feel safe but that others do too. It is recognition by a majority of Minnesotans that love and family should be fostered, in its many forms. I am amazed at how quickly the issue snowballed in the last few years around the country after so many years of it being vilified. I am really hopeful that other states that have yet to recognize same-sex marriage will follow Minnesota’s lead.