R.T. Rybak will stop in Milwaukee and Madison Monday, to urge gay and lesbian couples to visit his state.
The mayor of Minneapolis says hundreds of Minnesotans have wed since the state began allowing same-sex marriages in August.
He sees dollar signs, if people who can’t marry in their state visit his. Rybak says many spend a lot of money on weddings, such as one he recently attended.
“There were tens of thousands of dollars put into the local economy at this destination resort in northern Minnesota. Think about that,” Rybak says.
Rybak hopes to lure same-sex partners from Wisconsin and Illinois – perhaps other states, too. He’s stopping in several, to share his invitation. And it’s not just the mayor wooing the couples.
“We give free wedding planning to any same-sex couples who call our Meet Minneapolis office or go on our website. We think it’s really important for people to be steered in places where they’ll feel comfortable, where the vendors are accepting and excited about all of this,” Rybak says.
As Rybak visits Wisconsin Monday, Katie Belanger will travel with him. She’s with the group Fair Wisconsin. It advocates for same-sex marriage. Belanger she says she knows gay and lesbian couples who’ve already crossed the border to get married.
She says their marriage is not recognized by the state of Wisconsin. But she says federal officials have begun honoring the unions, through a Supreme Court decision this summer and “the most recent ruling from the IRS that couples regardless of their residence can file jointly on their federal taxes.”
Belanger says the Minneapolis mayor is giving people a chance to obtain marriage equality.
Julaine Appling disagrees, saying “the fact of the matter is, in Wisconsin there is no such thing as same-sex marriage.” Appling is with Wisconsin Family Action. It advocates for traditional marriage.
“We have a marriage amendment, passed in 2006 by nearly 60 percent of the people, that clearly defines marriage as between only one man and one woman,” Appling says.
Appling says the Minneapolis mayor is free to drum up business in Wisconsin. But she says his goal of growing the number of same-sex marriages only serves to degrade the institution.