CHICAGO (AP) — With all of Illinois' financial woes, residents have grown accustomed to politicians from other states trying to raid its companies, jobs and best workers.
Now one of them is making a similar pitch to the state's gay couples: Come north to get married, and spend lots of money.
Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, who recently married 46 same-sex couples following his state's passage of a law legalizing gay weddings, will appear in a predominantly gay Chicago neighborhood Thursday to launch a campaign called "Marry Me in Minneapolis." He plans to follow with campaigns in Colorado and Wisconsin, two other states that haven't approved same-sex marriage.
Rybak is trying to convince Chicagoans that rather than take a long — and expensive — plane trip to one of the coasts, just drive six hours to his city. Recently, many gay couples in the Midwest have said their vows in Iowa — the only state directly bordering Illinois that allows same-sex weddings.
He's trying to capitalize on disappointment among Illinois gay couples that the state, dominated by Democrats, still hasn't approved a marriage law and likely won't anytime soon with lawmakers on recess.
"I love Chicago and love to come spend money there, but if people there don't get the rights they deserve I am more than happy to have them come and spend their money in Minneapolis," he said in a telephone interview.
Rybak figures the campaign, if successful, could be extremely lucrative for Minneapolis, profiting on everything from hotel rooms to flowers to caterers.
"Even 20 weddings would be tens of thousands of dollars, maybe hundreds of thousands of dollars," Rybak said.
Some same-sex couples in Illinois say their first choice would be to get married locally. But they say Rybak's offer makes some sense, particularly if lawmakers in Illinois fail to come up with anything anytime soon.