Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak traveled to Milwaukee and Madison earlier this month to deliver wedding invitations to Wisconsinites.
Because Wisconsin bans same-sex couples from marrying, Rybak suggested gay couples exchange vows in the more welcoming state of Minnesota, specifically in the City of Lakes.
Minnesota’s marriage equality law went into effect on Aug. 1. In less than two months, 1,640 same-sex couples have applied for marriage licenses – that’s one in three marriage licenses granted during that time. Rybak has officiated at more than 40 same-sex weddings, including that of Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau to Police Sgt. Holly Keegel.
On Sept. 9, the Minneapolis mayor stopped by the Milwaukee LGBT Community Center to talk about marriage equality and invite same-sex couples to take a 337-mile trip to exchange vows.
He also went to Madison to court the LGBT community and spread the equality message.
“Minnesotans and Wisconsinites are almost like family: We know each other well and see each other often. Now, our Wisconsin cousins have another great reason to come see us in Minneapolis: to get married,” said Rybak. “Gay and lesbian couples from Madison and across Wisconsin don’t have to wait one more day to get legally married in Minneapolis. We’re a supportive and welcoming city where we’re ready to help them put together the wedding of their dreams.”
Madison Mayor Paul Soglin added, “It’s time for Wisconsin for to join the 21st century and do the right thing. Eventually, we will recognize same-sex marriage – and the sooner, the better.”
Katie Belanger of Fair Wisconsin spoke at the events in Madison and in Milwaukee, advocating for equality at home.
“Wisconsin’s antiquated and discriminatory laws banning marriage equality and civil unions are bad for our people and our economy, and put our entire state at a disadvantage to our more welcoming neighbors,” she said.
Several days before visiting Wisconsin, Rybak took his “I Want to Marry You in Minneapolis” campaign to Chicago. In the spring, Illinois and Minnesota seemed to be racing toward passage of marriage equality legislation. However, while Minnesota lawmakers passed legislation that was swiftly signed into law by Gov. Mark Dayton, the drive stalled in Illinois, where a vote was expected but not taken on the last day of the House’s regular session.
The Illinois measure, which passed the Senate on Valentine’s Day and has the support of the governor and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, could be taken up in late October, during a brief fall session.
In addition to Minnesota, 12 other states and the District of Columbia have legalized same-sex marriage. Also, county clerks in New Mexico and one county official in Pennsylvania have issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The legal status of theses marriages remains unclear.