Gustavus alumna Cathy ten Broeke ’91 has committed her professional career to ending homelessness in the state of Minnesota. At midnight on Thursday, August 1, ten Broeke made a commitment of a different kind, and in the process, became part of Minnesota history.
Ten Broeke and her partner Margaret Miles were chosen by Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak to be the first same-sex couple legally married when the state’s new marriage equality law went into effect. Miles and ten Broeke have been in a committed relationship for 12 years and have raised a five-year-old son, Louie. They said “I do” at a ceremony attended by more than a thousand people – including Gustavus faculty members Kate Wittenstein and Greg Kaster – early Thursday morning at Minneapolis City Hall.
“We have been 100 percent committed as a family for 12 years. 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,” ten Broeke and Miles said in a statement released by Rybak’s office. “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.”
Ten Broeke and Miles were not randomly chosen by Rybak to be the first same-sex couple to be wed, but instead selected because of what they represent: two loving individuals committed to each other and to their family who have also made significant contributions to the community.
The couple met at St. Stephen’s Human Services, where Miles is still employed as Director of Development. ten Broeke served as coordinator to end homelessness for Hennepin County and the city of Minneapolis for seven years and became acquainted with Rybak in the process. In January of this year, she left that post to start a new job as the State Director to Prevent and End Homelessness.
“There’s almost no public servant I admire more than Cathy ten Broeke,” Rybak told reporters in late June when he first announced plans for the August 1 ceremony.
After graduating from Gustavus with degrees in psychology and speech communication, ten Broeke spent a year teaching English in China, where she says she first developed an interest in issues of poverty and social justice. She spent more than seven years directing a homeless shelter for men and then more than three years as a policy aide to a Hennepin County commissioner. She earned her master’s degree in public policy and public affairs from the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute in 2005. Her fight to end homelessness in Minnesota has been well documented by several media outlets including the Star Tribune, The Journal, and MinnPost.
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