BOYSTOWN — Minneapolis is asking same-sex Illinois couples who want to get hitched to head north.
Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Ryback is launching a campaign in Chicago inviting same-sex couples to make the six-hour drive to Minneapolis to get married — legally.
The state legalized gay marriage last month, and the mayor immediately married 46 same-sex couples himself after the bill became law on Aug. 1.
"He’s got a real passion for helping people with this," said Kirsten Montag, marketing and communications manager for Meet Minneapolis, the city's visitors association. "It's just to welcome people up here."
In Illinois, civil unions are legal — but not marriage — and marriage advocates were "crushed" in the spring when efforts to pass a gay marriage law in the state were stalled. Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) said he plans to bring the topic back up in November.
Minneapolis plans to run ads in Chicago area publications this week. Ryback also will be in town Thursday at the Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted St., to launch the campaign.
Montag said Minneapolis is flush with wedding options. It's a "city by nature," with 180 parks, 22 lakes and the Mississippi River running through it. There are historic buildings and boutique hotels that are perfect for weddings too, she said.
"We kind of look at it as, they could have flown to New York or California," Montag said. "But a lot of people may not want to travel that far. We're a Midwestern city. We're a drivable distance.
"It’s just an easy trip, and we think that friends and family want to join them."