CHICAGO (CBS) — The mayor of Minneapolis is making no bones about it, he wants same-sex couples to come to Minnesota to spend big bucks on weddings, since they can’t get married yet in Illinois.
CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports same-sex marriages became legal in Minnesota last month, and now Minneapolis R.T. Rybak is making a push to convince couples to plan ceremonies there.
Rybak will visit the Lakeview neighborhood on Thursday to unveil a new ad campaign, courting couples planning a lifelong commitment.
“Chicago’s a great city, but it’s second city when it comes to equal rights. You can come to Minneapolis and get rights that you don’t have here in Chicago,” he said in an interview on the CBS 2 Morning News. “It’s also an incredible place, Minneapolis.”
Rybak officiated 46 weddings in six hours after same-sex marriage became legal in Minnesota on Aug. 1. Now he’s touring the country, trying to woo same-sex couples in states where it’s still illegal to marry to get hitched in the Gopher State.
Although gay and lesbian couples can get civil unions in Illinois, they’re still barred from getting married, so Rybak is hoping they’ll head to Minneapolis to tie the knot. He’s already advertising in local papers, including the Windy City Times, a leading news source for the gay community.
The ad says, “Hey Chicago, I want to marry you in Minneapolis!”
He said the Meet Minneapolis visitors’ bureau would even do wedding planning for couples who want to go to Minneapolis to get married.
“We’re happy to have you, and we’re happy to have the money from Chicago,” he said.
Rybak believes same-sex marriages will mean big bucks and a huge boost in tourism for his city.
In response, the Cook County Clerk’s office noted a marriage license from Minnesota does not make a same-sex marriage legal in Illinois.
Rybak, however, said those marriages would be recognized in Illinois once state lawmakers here approve same-sex marriage.
“But let’s think about this for a second, people who have waited many years – and the couples that I married on the night that it got legal waited a collective number of 750 years – why should they have to wait another minute?” Rybak said.
The Cook County Clerk’s office called Rybak’s campaign nothing more than a ploy to get Chicagoans’ hard-earned money.
“It’s not a ploy. We want Chicagoans’ money. I’ll be really blunt about that,” Rybak said.
He claimed a study he’s read found Illinois would get an influx of $100 million in economic activity over the next three years if same-sex marriage were legal in Illinois.
“So how about this? You guys give us the first $10 million of that, and once you figure out how much you’re losing, you can get the $90 million later on,” he said. “We’ve got people who are dying to do their weddings up in Minneapolis.”
After Chicago, Rybak will visit Madison, Milwaukee, and Denver.
Illinois lawmakers have yet to approve legislation to allow same-sex marriages in Illinois, but sponsors are hoping to gather enough votes to change that this fall.