Minneapolis hopes to turn same-sex marriage law into tourism dollars

Same-sex weddings
Margaret Miles, left, and Cathy ten Broeke, right, with their 5-year-old son Louie between them, celebrate as Mayor R.T. Rybak annouces the couple legally wed in Minnesota just after midnight on Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013 at Minneapolis City Hall.
MPR Photo/Jennifer Simonson

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak is hoping to turn Minnesota's new marriage law into a tourism opportunity.

The Democratic mayor officiated 46 same-sex weddings on August 1, when the new law went into effect. He's inviting same-sex couples from other states to hold their ceremonies in Minneapolis.

Rybak is traveling to Chicago this week to launch an ad campaign, followed by visits to Madison, Milwaukee and Denver.

"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," said Rybak. "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...We really think this could have a very significant financial impact."

Illinois lawmakers are expected to consider a same-sex marriage law this fall.

"I really hope eventually people in Illinois get the same rights couples do in Minnesota but until then, we're more than happy to have their business," Rybak said.

The Minneapolis Convention and Visitors Association, a co-sponsor of Rybak's "Marry in Minneapolis" campaign, is offering free wedding planning services to help couples get bids from local vendors.

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