Two Grooms on a Cake: The Story of America's First Gay Wedding

by Rob Sanders (Author) Robbie Cathro (Illustrator)

Two Grooms on a Cake: The Story of America's First Gay Wedding
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade
This is the story of Jack Baker and Michael McConnell and their inspiring story becoming the first married gay couple in the US fifty years ago. Long before marriage equality was the law of the land, two grooms stood on a wedding cake with their feet firmly planted in fluffy white frosting. That cake belonged to Jack Baker and Michael McConnell, who were wed on September 3, 1971, becoming the first same-sex couple in America to be legally married. Their struggle to obtain a marriage license in Minnesota and their subsequent appeals to the Minnesota Supreme Court and the Supreme Court of the United States is an under-told story of LGBT history. This beautiful book celebrates the love story of two pioneers of marriage equality for all through the baking of their wedding cake!


Their heartwarming story-accessible to young readers-demonstrates that the essential ingredient in a cake and a marriage is love. Cathro's affectionate illustrations-with vintage 1970s' colors and vibes-not only expand the text but also capture its sweet spirit exactly.

Publishers Weekly

Employing the perspective of the two groom cake toppers of the first legal same-sex American wedding in 1971, Sanders profiles Jack Baker and Michael McConnell, two white men who met in 1966 and strove for years to secure a marriage license. As the tiny cake toppers follow a recipe to bake the cake, they also narrate Baker and McConnell's journey in simple prose, from the couple's rejected first license, to law student Jack's legal name change to gender-neutral "Pat," and eventually to Michael's solo--and successful--second journey to the courthouse for the license. An author's note reveals that Baker and McConnell were "the only legally married gay couple in... Minnesota for nearly forty-two years." Cathro depicts the parallel stories in a vintage-inflected style, complete with '70s pastels and CorningWare-esque cookware, in a whimsical examination of a little-taught entry in queer history. Back matter includes an author's note, a timeline of marriage equality, and a bibliography. Ages 6-9. (May)

Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

K-Gr 4An iconic photo from the 1971 wedding of Michael McConnell and Jack Baker shows the men with their cake topped by two grooms. Those plastic figurines narrate this story about how two white men met, fell in love, and overcame obstacles to achieve the first same-sex marriage in the United States. Using the analogy of creating a wedding cake, the small figures gather and combine ingredients, bake the cake, and eventually frost and decorate it. At times the cartoon illustrations seem forced as the tiny grooms dance along the tines of a whisk or stand beneath a sugar shower in a mixing bowl. The illustrations of humans feature 1970s colors, patterns, and fashions, including polyester suits and wedding headbands. Both story lines emphasize the patience and persistence involved in the processes. Fifty years later the couple still lives in Minnesota as both Cathro's illustrations and actual photos highlight. An extensive author's note explains how the men obtained a license and married legally long before the U.S. Supreme Court issued its 2015 ruling on marriage equality. A detailed time line notes various state and federal laws and court decisions along the way. VERDICT This creative presentation of a little-known historic event introduces young readers to the topic of marriage equality. A good choice to foster diversity and inclusion.—Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State Univ. Lib., Mankato

Copyright 2021 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Rob Sanders

Rob Sanders is an acclaimed writer who teaches, and a teacher who writes. He is the author of numerous picture books, including Crystal Kite-winner Outer Space Bedtime Race; the Ruby Rose series; Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag; and Peaceful Fights for Equal Rights. Rob lives in Florida where he teaches elementary school.

Levi Hastings is an illustrator who specializes in stories about the natural world and queer history. He has illustrated the picture books, Spirit of Springer: The Remarkable Story of an Orphaned Orca and Mayor Pete: The Story of Pete Buttigieg. He lives in Seattle, Washington.

Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
May 20, 2021

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