Richfield Couple: ‘We Wanted Our Marriage Recognized By A Country, Not Just A State’
Residents Kathy Luebbe and Rev. Dr. Robyn Provis say being gay isn’t the most interesting thing about them.
For nearly eight years, Kathy Luebbe and Rev. Dr. Robyn Provis have been making a life together—and spoiling their miniature, black and white dog, Oreo.
The couple moved to Richfield from different states—Robyn from Missouri and Kathy from Ohio—about six months after meeting online. Within six months of arriving, they found a home, secured jobs and tied the knot in Toronto, Canada.
“I didn’t want to date within my church,” Robyn said. “So I simply thought I’d connect with some people socially. But, Kathy liked me and she wrote me.”
“I was also widening my social circle,” Kathy said and then smiled. “I just thought, ‘Gee, she is such a nice person.’ I thought she was so genuine.”
The Wedding and Marriage Recognition
Some may wonder why the couple chose Canada for their wedding destination. The answer is simple in their eyes.
“We wanted our marriage to be recognized by an entire country,” Robyn said. “Not just one state.”
With the fight over whether same-sex marriage should be legal, Robyn said being wed in a country where their union was regarded the same as an opposite-sex union was an extraordinary experience.
“It was just so bizarre to be affirmed by an entire country,” she said. “Our hotel left us champagne. … Even going though immigration and telling them we were getting married, it was like ‘Oh, congratulations! Good luck!’ It was an extraordinary experience.”
While the wedding was perfect, their union isn’t legally recognized at home.
“Here we are in Richfield, Minnesota, and if we drive four hours north to Canada, our marriage is recognized. If we drive three hours south to Iowa, our marriage is recognized. But it isn’t here at home.”
While their marriage isn’t legally recognized in the state of Minnesota, the couple said Richfield has been very welcoming and accepting.
Both Kathy and Robyn were raised in religious households. Both were married to men, had children, and for many years lived the life they thought they “were supposed to.”
“It wasn’t part of my radar to think of myself as gay,” Kathy said. “I just thought, ‘If you work long enough and hard enough, these attractions will go away.’”
Robyn came out in her early 20s and said her family was very supportive.
“My son, who is now deceased, said to me, ‘Finally, you’re so much more yourself!” she said with a chuckle. “It wasn’t that I turned gay; I finally understood who I was."
Kathy’s experience coming out, however, was completely different. She was raised in a strict Roman Catholic family with seven brothers and sisters. One of her brothers, who has passed away, was also gay and had come out when he was 18.
“I saw the way my parents treated him,” she said. “And I didn’t want that.”
“My parents are still very Catholic,” she added. “[When I finally came out], they didn’t talk to me for four and half years.”
Kathy didn’t come out until her 40s. She was married for 20 years before she finally told her husband she had “a problem.”
“I loved the guy the I married—to the extent the I could,” she said as tears swelled in her eyes. “It was very painful to hurt him and break up my entire family, because I was living a lie.”
And as a Catholic, Kathy said she spent four years working though her religious guilt with a therapist—who was also Catholic.
“My therapist asked me, ‘Is it more loving to be honest or to be living a lie?” she recalled. “That made sense and after that it was just learning to deal with this new life.”
However, a silver lining was her son’s response to the news.
“When I came out to my son, he also came out to me,” Kathy said. “It was unreal. … And it’s great because he is so comfortable with who he is.”
Both Kathy and Robyn’s ex-husbands are remarried now. In fact, Robyn performed the marriage ceremony for her ex. Kathy also said her parents have become more accepting, especially after her brother passed away.
“I just always tell people that being gay isn’t the most interesting thing about me,” Robyn said. “I play the accordion.”
The Marriage Amendment: 'Mixing Religion and Politics'
Robyn has been an openly gay member of the clergy from the beginning. She left the world of journalism and advertising to enter seminary in the late 90s. After completing her master’s at a Lutheran seminary, she worked for about five years as a pastor before going back to get her doctorate from an Episcopalian seminary.
While some may argue the Bible outlaws homosexuality, Robyn said there is nothing in scripture condeming same-gender, loving, committed couples.
“The few things that it does say are for specific circumstances,” she said. “And would no more indict homosexuals than heterosexuals.”
“I regard the Bible seriously, not literally,” Robyn added. “It really is a collection of stories of our ancestors who tried to make sense of their life, their environment, their social surroundings. Today’s Bible and an edition from the 1300s are very different.”
With the proposed marriage amendment on the ballot this November, Robyn believes the measure is mixing religion with politics.
“By and large, the people that are for [the amendment] have specific views around it,” she said. “It would privilege one religion over another. … And it’s just so basic to want to marry the person that you love, to make a covenant with that person.”
“There is such a misnomer that this is something that you would oppose despite your faith,” she added. “I oppose it because of my faith.”
'God Made You The Way You Are'
In an attempt to provide a safe resource for LGBTQ teens considering suicide, Robyn created GetMeThroughTheNight.com.
The resource was created after Robyn’s son, Jeremiah, committed suicide in 2004 at the age of 26. While her son wasn't gay, Robyn said the bullying of LGBT teens going on today is a real problem and, as documented by the media, has led to suicides.
“They desperately need a safe space,” she said. “They need to know that this is how God and who God created to be. There is no ‘oops baby’ to God.”
To see more about Rev. Dr. Robyn's views on religion and homosexuality, see our "Q&A: Homosexuality, Gay Marriage & The Bible" article.