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Rybak promoting marriage campaign in Chicago
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Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak has teamed up with the city’s hospitality industry organization Meet Minneapolis to launch the “I Want to Marry You in Minneapolis” campaign to promote Minneapolis as a wedding destination for same-sex couples who cannot legally marry in their home state. The campaign taps into a fast-growing segment of the wedding industry as pent-up and emerging demand for gay weddings is unleashed with the recent changes in federal government policy on legally married same-sex couples. Meet Minneapolis, which offers free wedding planning services, has a page dedicated to same-sex weddings.

Mayor Rybak--who is also vice chair of the Democratic National Committee and a passionate advocate for marriage equality--kicked off his campaign in Chicago earlier this month (via KMSP TV):

"I hope the day comes very soon that all Illinoisans can marry the person that they love, and I strongly encourage the Legislature and Governor Quinn to pass marriage equality as soon as possible -- but until that day comes, I'm here to steal your business," Rybak said.
"This is very much about money," Rybak conceded while speaking in Chicago. "In my mind, it's also about equal rights. I can't imagine that in a city that has neighborhoods like this that were built by members of the LGBT community, they wouldn't have equal rights -- but hey, if they don't, we'd love you in Minneapolis."
But, same-sex couples traveling to Minneapolis to get married? Really? Yes, really! See my commentary below the fold.

Just how gay friendly is Minneapolis? In its somewhat quixotic ranking of America's gayest cities, The Advocate rated the Twin Cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul as the nation's 10th gayest city in 2013, calling it a "Midwestern gay Mecca." (They are actually two different cities, of course, but The Advocate counted them as a single city, referring to them as "more than just roommates" and "full domestic partners.") This was down from its 2011 ranking as the #1 gayest city in the nation. With so many gays and lesbians marrying here these days (over 1600 marriage licenses had been issued to same-sex couples in Minnesota as of September 2, according to a survey conducted by the AP), I imagine it will move up in the rankings next year.

Thanks to the anti-gay-marriage referendum on the November, 2012 ballot (which, ironically, played a major role in making marriage equality a reality in Minnesota, as noted in this Time Magazine article) we have a pretty good idea how the people of Minneapolis feel about marriage equality. According to the Minnesota Secretary of State, 76% of city residents who cast ballots last fall voted against the gay marriage ban--three out of every four voters. (For comparison, about 68% of St. Paul's voters rejected the gay marriage ban, and statewide, about 51% of voters rejected it. Distressingly close, but enough to win.)

President Obama, Senator Amy Klobuchar, and Congressman Keith Elllison (who sang a song and preached from his gospel of left-wing activism in celebration of marriage equality) each received over 80% of the city's votes last fall. The city’s 5 state senators and 10 state representatives are all Democrats who voted in favor of marriage equality. Senator Al Franken (who bought flowers for the couples who were wed in Minneapolis City Hall in the first hours after gay marriage became legal in Minnesota) and Governor Mark Dayton, who are both running for reelection next year, are also marriage equality supporters, as is each of the City Council's 13 members.

Of course, being a gay-friendly city isn't just about electing politicians who support full equality for LGBT people. Residents have to back up their votes with their actions. Well, this is what people in Minneapolis do to anti-gay graffiti. Initially, there were some vandals who thought that gays should die, but there were subsequent vandals who think gays are awesome.

Graffitti on Whitney Bridge, Minneapolis
Graffiti on Whitney Bridge, Minneapolis
I saw the vandals who vandalized the original vandalism by scribbling out "should die!!" and writing "are awesome!!!" They were two teenage girls. (When I first saw these girls writing on the bridge, I assumed they were writing something mean about a female classmate. Shame on me for buying into the sexist stereotype that all teenage girls are shallow and catty.) These girls represent the generational shift that is making homophobia obsolete. They will probably never quite understand why so many people of previous generations thought being gay was such a bad thing. I don't condone vandalism, but if you're going to do it, do it the way these girls did.

As the Daily Show's Jason Jones points out in this NSFW 2011 video clip Minneapolis is the New Gay, gay culture in Minneapolis is pretty well woven into mainstream culture, an observation I made a few weeks ago. As I was admiring the sunset over one of the city's many lakes (see the entirely gratuitous photo below), I saw an awkward-looking young couple--dressed slightly more formally than either was comfortable with--tentatively holding hands as they strolled around the lake. They looked like college freshmen or sophomores, perhaps on their second or third date. I remembered a similarly awkward stroll I took with a would-be boyfriend around that same lake 25 years ago. One difference, though. The couple I saw that evening was made up of two young men. They were awkward and cute and enjoying an utterly normal ritual of young adulthood.

Sunset over Lake of the Isles
By taking advantage of good social policy to promote economic development, I think the "I Want to Marry You in Minneapolis" campaign is really smart public policy. Nevertheless, I'm sure Mayor Rybak agrees with me that we will all be better off when everyone who wants to get married can do so in their home state.

P.S. St. Paul is nice too!
Edit 1: Replaced confusing photo.
Edit 2: Changed some wording per feedback from commenters.

Originally posted to AnitaMaria on Wed Sep 18, 2013 at 02:08 PM PDT.

Also republished by Kossacks for Marriage Equality and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  She should air these ads in (5+ / 0-)

    Texas, to steal the gay-wedding business from Rick Perry's state!  Poach our profits! Re-locate the Texas wedding planning businesses from here to Minnesota!

    Sorry, I was unable to resist.  But seriously, turnabout would be more than fair play for our despicable governor Goodhair.

    Good on heronor the mayor.

    I'm part of the "bedwetting bunch of website Democrat base people (DKos)." - Rush Limbaugh, 10/16/2012 Torture is Wrong! We live near W so you don't have to. Send love.

    by tom 47 on Wed Sep 18, 2013 at 02:50:15 PM PDT

    •  Isn't Rybak a man? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I don't know why that pic from this campaign had a woman.  Presumably she's someone else involved.

      •  Yes, R. T. Rybak is a man (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Phoenix Woman

        His full name is Raymond Thomas Rybak, Jr.

        He does, however, go by his initials all the time, so it's just R. T. Rybak.

        I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

        by NonnyO on Wed Sep 18, 2013 at 10:57:49 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Ooops-- (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dotdash2u, Calamity Jean, Rich in PA

      That's not the mayor in that ad. I'll have to change something to make that clear.

      But, to address the issue of Gov. Goodhair, a lot of economic development initiatives look like what Perry is trying to do to get business to relocate to Texas. The State of Texas gives up a lot to get new businesses, but there's no net gain. It's just rearranging the money from one state to another. Mayor Rybak's campaign is decidedly different than Perry's approach. The Minneapolis campaign is aimed at couples in states that don't allow gay marriage. The couples could not get married in their home state even if they wanted to. This is one of the things about this campaign that, from my perspective as a political economist, makes this such a smart thing to do.

      •  Yes, I fully get it. Perry's efforts lose TX (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Phoenix Woman

        money, but of course, it's not his money, and he has a way to get a kickback from his donors. "Pay to play" as it's said here.

        My ooint was that luring gay wedding araangement business out of Texas is  a winner for Minneapolis, precisely because Texas legally restricts gay marriage.  It's business Texas can't have, and Rick can't try to shift to Texas.

        I'm part of the "bedwetting bunch of website Democrat base people (DKos)." - Rush Limbaugh, 10/16/2012 Torture is Wrong! We live near W so you don't have to. Send love.

        by tom 47 on Wed Sep 18, 2013 at 07:45:59 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Rather to my surprise: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ER Doc

    R. T. Rybak is the approved form at the

    Good enough for me.

  •  Just think (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ER Doc, AnitaMaria, dotdash2u, raptavio, sny

    Hubert Humphrey began his political career as the equally progressive mayor of Minneapolis. Let's hope for an even brighter future for Mr. Rybak.

    •  Honestly, I think Rybak is one of our nation's (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sfbob, raptavio, sny, Calamity Jean

      most under-appreciated progressive politicians. I suppose he gets overshadowed by Minnesota's progressive heavyweights--Al Franken and Keith Ellison.

      Rybak has decided not to run for reelection, but he has not yet said what he will do next.

    •  Humphrey made his (0+ / 0-)

      name by selling out the socialist wing of the Farmer Labor Party, forcibly mating it with the less progressive Democratic Party, creating the modern DFL.

      I buy and sell well trained riding mules and American Mammoth Jack Stock.

      by old mule on Fri Sep 20, 2013 at 10:36:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  There is a lot of speculation (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      in local DFL Party politics about what RT Ryback will do next. It will be interesting to see what he decides to do next.

      Other than Keith Ellison, he's the one politician that reminds me of former US Senator Paul Wellstone. He absolutely LOVES talking with people, and is a bundle of energy whenever he's speaking in public.

      “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom” - Anais Nin

      by legendmn on Fri Sep 20, 2013 at 11:51:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Rybak rocks. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Really nice guy too.

    "Much of movement conservatism is a con and the base is the marks." -- Chris Hayes

    by raptavio on Wed Sep 18, 2013 at 05:36:24 PM PDT

  •  I'd republish this to K4Marriage Equalty (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lorikeet, NonnyO, JayRaye, Phoenix Woman

    had you not used the phrase "gay marry". We don't get gay married. We get MARRIED. Minnesota just marries people.

    Words do have meanings, and if we're equal, the ceremony is the same for everybody. I'm absolutely in favor of what Rybak is doing.

    Seneca Falls, Selma, Stonewall

    by Dave in Northridge on Wed Sep 18, 2013 at 07:10:48 PM PDT

  •  from Wisconsn (3+ / 0-)

    I have a coworker going up in a few weeks to marry her partner of 10 years, She is tired of waiting for this backward state to grow up so they will tie the knot up there and get those federal benefits in place.

    Reception here in Wisconsin for those of us no able to attend the wedding. is America's Blog of Record

    by WI Deadhead on Wed Sep 18, 2013 at 08:31:43 PM PDT

    •  Mayor Rybak had some choice words for (3+ / 0-)

      Scott Walker when he was in Milwaukee promoting his campaign. From JSOnline:

      "You know, Governor Walker has made a habit of traveling to other states and saying that government should cut regulations so that people have the full liberties they have and business can soar," Rybak said. "Well, I think Governor Walker should cut the federal red tape that prevents people from having equal rights to marry...and that would help a whole lot of small businesses put money into the local economy."

      "If Governor Walker wants to give that advice to Minnesota, I give it right back to Governor Walker," Rybak said. "Cut the red tape, give liberty and let small business soar."

      I'm glad your friend can make the trip to Minnesota, but it's wrong that she should have to leave home to get married.
  •  Presenting Minnesota's Same Sex Marriage (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Ambassador Marcus Bachmann.

    "I think that gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman.” - Arnold Schwarzenegger 2003

    by kerplunk on Wed Sep 18, 2013 at 08:46:43 PM PDT

  •  OK but they'll have to fight it out with Branson. (0+ / 0-)

    That's the great thing about our country, the spirit of competition!

    You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

    by Rich in PA on Thu Sep 19, 2013 at 08:08:24 AM PDT

  •  A happy season (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I've got four weddings of friends on my calendar this fall, all older couples, three of them same-sex couples celebrating partnerships of long duration. It has been a joy to see them so happy and to celebrate with them.

    And going by the two weddings I've been to so far, the floral, catering, event planning, and live music businesses are all getting a healthy boost.

  •  Man, this pisses me off. (0+ / 0-)

    Come on, Quinn, Madigan.  Let's get this Marriage Equality bill done.  You ought to be able to get married in Illinois to the person you love.

    Good for you Minnesota, but I hope we can ruin your business.

    "Don't be defeatist, dear. It's very middle class." - Violet Crawley

    by nightsweat on Thu Sep 19, 2013 at 10:29:49 AM PDT

  •  An oddity of the Illinois civil unions law (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Phoenix Woman, AnitaMaria

    is that out-of-state same-sex marriages are automatically recognized as civil unions in IL. In the handful of other civil union states, you might decide to get a civil union first, then go out-of-state to get married (and get federal recognition) later.

    In IL, it's one step for both state and federal benefits, but the catch is, you can't do it in IL yet. So it's a no-brainer for gay couples in IL to just get married in MN (or IA). It should be as much of a no-brainer for IL to bring that business back home.

  •  two cities (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Traditionally Minneapolis is Protestant and St Paul Catholic, wonder if that's still true? It would affect attitudes.

    They are good towns in general, welcomed immigrants with less of the friction that occured elsewhere.
    Ryback's a all right guy...
    But...I got discouraged and moved from there, feeling that the city welcomed young people who worked in tech and finance, and sort of forgot us old people who worked with our hands. I didn't feel the city really wanted me any more, the U and absentee landlords buying up my old neighborhood, city code regulations geared toward new construction and making it hard for me to update and maintain my Civil War-era house...
    I guess it's a pretty great place for young people now.
    I miss it a lot, great bands, good art, great punk DIY scene, but it is no longer a place where a working class man can show up with his tools and make a good living.
    Just my opinion of course.
    Everything there seems sort of corporate and institutional compared to when I moved there decades ago.
    Anyway I remember the old gay bars, they seemed to survive with not much friction, and wasn't there a pioneering GLBT magazine published there?
    Best wishes to all who move there...but bring a three piece suit and a BMW if you want to thrive.

    I buy and sell well trained riding mules and American Mammoth Jack Stock.

    by old mule on Fri Sep 20, 2013 at 10:34:21 AM PDT

    •  I think you're probably right (0+ / 0-)

      that Minneapolis has become a less friendly place for working class people over the past 2 decades, but I'm not sure that its experience has been substantially different than that of other similarly situated cities. America has become a less friendly place for working-class people since the 1980s.

    •  They are like two siblings from different parents (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Minneapolis has been more cosmopolitan and trendy, while Saint Paul has been more blue-collar working class. I'm not sure about the religious composition, but considering how many Irish immigrants that settled Saint Paul, it wouldn't surprise me if it was more Catholic. Saint Paul is where the catholic bishop resides.

      As for your other comments, I tend to agree with you. Unlike Saint Paul, Minneapolis has had a bad reputation for many decades of tearing down blighted buildings instead of fixing up historic ones. That has been changing, but most of the reason that cities like Minneapolis have been growing so fast is because of young people wanting to live in the city. There is a shortage of rental space currently, which has caused rental rates to skyrocket, and new buildings to sprout up everywhere. Great things IMO, as long as we can manage the change well.

      “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom” - Anais Nin

      by legendmn on Fri Sep 20, 2013 at 12:06:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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