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Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Margaret Chutich reflects ahead of retirement

Justice Margaret Chutich reflects on accomplishments ahead of retirement
Justice Margaret Chutich reflects on accomplishments ahead of retirement 03:06

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Once an Anoka high school basketball star Margaret Chutich now sits on the state's highest court. 

Just a few hundred yards from the state capital is Chutich's office inside the Minnesota Supreme Court. The shelves of Chutich's office tell a story. It's a story of a life and career rooted in justice. 

"I was always drawn into a career to help people," she said. "And I loved to read and just talk to people and try to persuade people about things so I thought oh I'll try law school."

After playing basketball at the University of Minnesota, she played out her dream to become a lawyer at the University of Michigan. 

"When I got on the court of appeals I thought I hit the jackpot, and then this time on the Supreme Court has been really wonderful too," Chutich said.

When she got the appointment, she also got press she didn't expect.

"One of my friends said, 'Did you get annoyed the headline was first openly gay member of Supreme Court instead of very qualified judge whose had all of these appellate positions?' And I said no," Chutich said. "People were coming up to me to hug me to shake my hand, and people were telling me how glad they were that I was there. They had daughters and sons who are gay and gay law students that came up to me. And it was showing them it wasn't a bar to getting on the state's highest court, you know."

Chutich and Dr. Penny Wheeler became family in 1997 in front of her 97-year-old grandmother.

"I said, 'Grandma, Penny and I are going to have a commitment ceremony.' And she said, 'I can't think of a more wonderful person than Penny Wheeler.'" Chutich said. "And I was just like amazed."

She was also amazed when 15 years later, with their beloved daughter, they got to finally make it legal.

"I don't think I thought I would ever be married, officially," Chutich said. "It was really gratifying and a wonderful feeling of acceptance. And to me, as a judge, of course, to have it be legal was super."

She's been sharing the love becoming a go-to officiant for same-sex weddings. 

"I do sometimes get choked up myself," Chutich said.

She says she is also moved that there are now 14 appointed state judges in the Pride community. 

"I was on a panel and they all said how important my appointment was to them for even thinking about applying to be a judge," Chutich said.

Chutich realized by just living her life, she was changing others.

Chutich retires at the end of the month. Something else she's proud of is that all of the couples she's married over the years are still married.

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