Quick Hit Ashlee Rezin Thursday September 5th, 2013, 12:51pm

Minneapolis Mayor To Chicago's Gay Couples: 'Our City Would Like To Marry You' (VIDEO)

With a slogan that reads “I want to marry you in Minneapolis”, the city's mayor, R.T. Rybak, unveiled a Chicagoland ad campaign on Thursday urging the city's LGBTQ couples to make the six-hour drive to the City of Lakes to get legally married.

"Chicago is my kind of town, but it's a second city in human rights. Right now, that gives a tremendous competitive advantage to Minneapolis,” said Rybak, who announced the campaign from the roof of the Center On Halsted, at 3656 N. Halsted St., a community center catered to LGBTQ Chicagoans in the heart of the Boystown neighborhood.

“The people who built this neighborhood, who have done so much incredible work in this community, you deserve equal rights,” he said. “Come to Minnesota, a place that recognizes that you already should have those rights."

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton signed same-sex marriage into law in May, and on August 1, when the act took effect, Rybak immediately performed wedding ceremonies for 46 couples at Minneapolis' city hall. Since that time, more than 1,600 same-sex couples have been married in all 87 Minnesota counties.

“The arc of justice is bending quicker than anything we’ve ever seen, and my advice to people is, get on board, this is going to happen,” said the three-term mayor of Minneapolis who is not running for re-election this year. “In the next few years, this is going to change rapidly and people will remember how long it took Illinois to come around.”

Rybak also plans to visit Milwaukee, Madison and Denver in upcoming weeks, where the Minneapolis wedding ad campaign will also run in print publications. The ads in Chicago can already be seen in RedEye Chicago and the Windy City Times, the city’s leading LGBTQ newspaper.

When asked if his visit to Chicago is “unfair” to Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Rybak chuckled and asked, “Have you met Mayor Emanuel? He would do it to me any day of the week.”

“Like Willie Sutton said, ‘Banks, why do I rob them? It’s because that’s where the money is.’ We’re really targeting Chicago,” he added.

Here's more from Rybak:

Rybak’s visit to Illinois, which legalized civil unions but has failed to do the same for same-sex marriage, comes one week after the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced that all legally married same-sex couples will be recognized for federal tax purposes, even if they live in one of the 37 states without marriage equality legislation.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Section 3 of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional, and thus granted more than 1,100 federal benefits to married same-sex couples in states that have legalized it.

But the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, SB 10, a bill that would have legalized same-sex marriage in Illinois, was not called for a vote in the Illinois House before lawmakers adjourned the spring session in May. The bill’s main sponsor, State Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), who is openly gay, said the legislation did not garner the 60 votes needed for approval before the end of the session. The legislation passed in the Illinois Senate on Valentine’s Day and Gov. Pat Quinn had said he would sign it into law.

Harris has vowed to bring the legislation up for consideration again when legislators reconvene in Springfield for the fall veto session on October 22.

“For our neighboring states to come and showcase the fact that they are embracing our community, and embracing equality, it’s pretty embarrassing for the state of Illinois,” said Tico Valle, CEO of the Center On Halsted, who added that he has been with his partner for 13 years and would like to get legally married in his home state.

Valle called marriage a “human right”, adding that he refuses to get a civil union because it “is not equal.”

“Not having full marriage equality says that we are second-class citizens, and that’s unacceptable,” Valle explained.

Meanwhile, allowing same-sex couples to marry in Illinois could generate up to $103 million in tourism and wedding spending in the state over three years' time, according to a recent study by the Williams Institute.

“This is the type of progressive public policy that is good for business and gives Minnesota an edge,” said John Stiles, communications director for Mayor Rybak.

In an effort to sway the remaining lawmakers who have not endorsed the state’s gay marriage legislation, Illinois Unites for Marriage, a coalition of marriage equality activists, rolled out a $2 million statewide campaign in July.

According to Rick Garcia, policy director for The Civil Rights Agenda (TCRA), a member of Illinois Unites for Marriage, the bill is still roughly 10 votes short of passing.

“Illinoisans should not have to go to Minnesota, or New York, or California, or even Iowa, to have their families protected and recognized,” he said. “When we see other states around us doing it successfully, both morally and economically, that has to push our state legislators to do the right thing.”

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