BOYSTOWN — Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Ryback visited Chicago Thursday to invite same-sex couples to his city for weddings, but don't get him wrong — he wants Illinois to pass marriage equality.
Ryback stood alongside Anthony Martinez of the Civil Rights Agenda, a gay rights group, and declared that he believes "passionately and deeply in my heart" that all couples deserve the right to marry.
But with one study showing more than $100 million in extra spending over three years if Illinois passes same-sex marriage, lawmakers need to approach it as both a civil rights issue and an economic issue, Ryback said at a press conference at the Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted St.
Until then, he's happy to take Chicago dollars, he said
"Chicago's my kind of town," Ryback said. "It's the second city in human rights. Right now, that gives a tremendous competitive advantage to Minneapolis."
Minneapolis' tourism organization debuted an ad campaign in Chicago media on Thursday, including the RedEye and Windy City Times, encouraging local couples to fly or drive up to Minneapolis to legally wed.
Already, Minneapolis has hosted 1,600 same-sex weddings since Minnesota legalized gay marriage on Aug. 1., Ryback said. With the end of the Defense of Marriage Act this summer, state-wed couples also qualify for federal marriage rights like veteran's and tax benefits.
Illinois failed to vote on gay marriage after Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) said he did not have enough support to call the vote, angering marriage advocates. Chicago activists plan to march to Springfield in October to demand a positive result.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been supportive of marriage equality in the state and agreed that not legalizing it is "bad for Chicago, bad for Illinois and bad for our local economy and the jobs it creates."
"Our robust tourism and hospitality industries will thrive most fully when our state hangs out the 'welcome' sign for everybody," he said in a statement.
Ryback will also be making visits to Milwaukee, Madison and Denver to pitch Minneapolis as a wedding destination. He's urging lawmakers to pass marriage equality in their states, too.
"My advice would be 'Get on board. This is going to happen,'" he said.