Five Questions with Cathy ten Broeke ’91

On the anniversary of Obergefell v. Hodges, Cathy ten Broeke ’91 shares the memories of her historic marriage and her advice for LGBTQ+ Gusties.
Posted on June 26th, 2022 by

Cathy ten Broeke '91

When the clock struck midnight on June 1, 2013, the day same-sex marriage became legal in Minnesota, Cathy ten Broeke ’91 and Margaret Miles exchanged vows on the steps of Minneapolis City Hall in front of a crowd of supporters and became the first same-sex couple to be wed in the state.

Seven years ago today, as a result of the Supreme Court decision on Obergefell v. Hodges, same-sex couples across the United States gained the right to share in the same joy as ten Broeke and her spouse. To commemorate the occasion, she answered five questions about the impact Gustavus had on her identity and her hope for the LGBTQIA+ community.


Gustavus: When you reflect on you and your spouse being the first same-sex couple to be married in Minnesota, what are some words or emotions that come to mind?

Cathy ten Broeke ’91 (right) and Margaret Miles were the first same-sex couple to be wed in Minnesota.

ten Broeke: That day was one of the most powerful and meaningful days of our lives. Margaret and I felt so humbled and honored to be standing on those City Hall steps with our son Louie at such an incredible moment in history. We knew we were only standing there because of the work and bravery of so many others throughout history, because of all of the organizing and neighbor-to-neighbor conversations that happened in communities all across the state by so many known and unknown heroes. We knew in every cell of our bodies that that moment was not about us at all, but rather about loving couples everywhere finally having their families and their love and commitment recognized and celebrated and honored. It is hard to describe all of the love we felt all at once at the stroke of midnight. It is a feeling I will never let go of.

Gustavus: In what other ways have you personally seen LGBTQIA+ rights advance in your lifetime? What still needs to be done?

ten Broeke: I remember growing up in the 70s and 80s feeling like something must be wrong with me. Not because anyone said that to me, but because I never knew of or saw anyone being openly gay (other than in disrespectful stereotypes on TV). I kept my feelings completely to myself. As far as I knew, a woman loving another woman was simply not an option.  

While our rights have been hard won and are in no way a given, I am overwhelmed with joy when I think of many young people across the country now finding so much pride in who they are. Our son is growing up in a very different and far more inclusive and affirming time. 

We can never take this freedom to love and marry who we want for granted, especially right now. We need to keep organizing and protecting our LGBTQIA+ family. Thankfully, we have incredible allies willing to stand with us.

Gustavus: How do we continue to protect LGBTQIA+ rights at a local, state, and federal level?

ten Broeke: VOTE! Always vote. Make sure that the people who will be representing you hold the values most important to you. Organize. Have conversations, even very hard ones. Don’t ever assume someone else will do what needs to be done. You must speak up and do the work.  

Gustavus: You’ve spent much of your professional life working to address homelessness in the state of Minnesota. How did your time at Gustavus empower you to recognize and address inequity in our world?

ten Broeke: I think Gustavus gave me the opportunity to explore who I was and who I most wanted to be in the world. Gustavus was where I came out. Gustavus is where I made lifelong friendships with people who love and value social justice. Gustavus is where I found my voice.

Gustavus: Do you have any advice to help current Gusties in the LGBTQIA+ community feel empowered in the face of injustice?

ten Broeke: You have an army of loving people (past and present) with you on this journey.  You are not alone. Always remember those who came before you who helped you, and who will come after you who may need your help. You are the most important part of the movement right now. 

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Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication Luc Hatlestad
luch@gustavus.edu
507-933-7510

 


One Comment

  1. Jennifer Tammi says:

    This amazing woman is a great example of why we can’t stop fighting back against those who try to take away hard-won rights. And her answer to the question about how to do that is spot on — vote. We also need to make sure we continue to fight to protect the right for all to vote. Thank you, Rachel McCarthy, for reposting this story!