Minneapolis Mayor/noted silver fox R.T. Rybak is cruising through the Boystown neighborhood of Chicago today, but sadly he’s not looking for a trick. The three-term Democrat, who happens to have a wife and kids, is visiting Illinois to drum up support for his “Marry Me in Minneapolis” campaign.
“Marry Me in Minneapolis” capitalizes on the lack of rights affordedto same-sex couples living in neighboring states. After visiting Illinois, Rybak plans to take his tour to Wisconsin and Colorado, hoping to draw couples—and their checkbooks—to his city. The recent IRS/Treasury Department ruling that legal same-sex marriages will be recognized for federal tax purposes, regardless of where they are performed, certainly makes Rybak’s offer more appealing.
Understanding the potential boon for his city’s economy, Rybak is working tirelessly to make getting married in Minneapolis as easy as possible. Meet Minneapolis, the city’s Convention and Visitors Association, is offering free wedding planning through its user-friendly website, which provides information on everything from where to obtain a license to what kinds of reception venues are available.
“Heck, if we get 30 couples from Chicago to come up here and do a wedding, that’s 30 weddings, 30 wedding parties, 30 rentals of great places, 30 florists. You begin to ripple that through the economy—now it’s assumed we’re going to get more than 30—that’s a lot of money,” Rybak told Minnesota Public Radio. “We really think this could have a very significant financial impact.”
Since winning election over incumbent Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton by a record margin in 2001, Rybak has gone on to become one of the most popular mayors in Minneapolis history. He’s extremely active on social media and has been credited as the first American mayor to use Twitter. Before entering politics, he worked as a journalist, notably starting Q Monthly, a local LGBT magazine, in the mid-1990s. He’s known for crowd surfing at political events.
On August 1st, Minnesota became the 12th state to legalize same-sex marriage. That morning at 12:01 a.m., Rybak began marrying same-sex couples, issuing 46 marriage certificates before the day was finished. Since August 1st, same sex couples have represented one-third of marriage license applicants in Minnesota.