Mayor’s economic pitch: Come to Minn. for wedding

Mayor R.T. Rybak of Minneapolis displayed an ad during his visit to a Chicago neighborhood,
M. Spencer Green/Associated Press
Mayor R.T. Rybak of Minneapolis displayed an ad during his visit to a Chicago neighborhood,

CHICAGO — Calling their hometown a ‘‘Second City in human rights,’’ the mayor of Minneapolis told Chicago gays and lesbians during a visit Thursday that they should consider holding their marriages in his city rather than continue waiting for Illinois to legalize them.

Appearing in a predominantly gay Chicago neighborhood, Mayor R.T. Rybak of Minneapolis said he plans to capitalize on what he sees as a competitive advantage over most other Midwestern states when it comes to gay marriages.

Minnesota recently legalized gay weddings, but the Illinois Legislature adjourned its last session without a final vote.


It’s Rybak’s own twist on a common practice among politicians trying to lure away companies with tax breaks and other promises, and he says he makes no apology for the pitch.

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‘‘Have you met Mayor (Rahm) Emanuel?’’ he joked when asked about the famously competitive Chicago mayor. ‘‘He would do it to me every day of the week.’’

Rybak stressed he wants Illinois to pass such a law. But in a news conference in which he mixed jokes with a serious message, he said that the longer that state takes to legalize gay marriage, the more money that will flow out of the state and into Minnesota, and all the hotels, caterers, florists, bakers, and others that make money off weddings.

‘‘If I was the mayor of not only Chicago but any city in Illinois I would be really frightened,’’ he said. ‘‘Chicago and all of Illinois stand to lose all of those tourism dollars from people who have a choice.’’

Both Emanuel and Governor Pat Quinn, both of whom support legalizing gay marriage, also pointed out the potential for lost tourism dollars when reacting to news that Rybak was coming.


Rybak said he hoped that same-sex couples would be swayed by his reminder that Minnesota is so close — six hours by car and a fraction of that by jet.

His campaign aims to cut into the number of gay and lesbian couples who are traveling to Iowa to get married by convincing at least some of them to ‘‘turn left at Wisconsin’’ and come to Minneapolis.