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Madison mayor calls for a 21st century Wisconsin and marriage equality

UPDATED: Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak was in Wisconsin on Sept. 9 to court same-sex couples who can’t marry in their home state. He was inviting gay couples to marry in Minneapolis, where he has officiated at same-sex weddings, including that of the city’s police chief.

Rybak joined supporters of marriage equality at a press conference at the Milwaukee LGBT Community Center earlier on Sept. 9. 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,” Rybak said. “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, at a press conference in the capital, said, “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.”

Kate Belanger of Fair Wisconsin spoke in Madison and in Milwaukee, advocating for equality. She said, “As more and more states surrounding Wisconsin enact marriage equality, many Wisconsin couples are certainly likely to avail themselves of the full recognition afforded by those states and the federal government. 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.”

The Minneapolis mayor last week visited Chicago, where he offered the same invitation. He’s also expected to visit Colorado, where same-sex couples can enter into civil unions but not marriage.

Minneapolis has launched a ad campaign – “I Want to Marry You in Minneapolis” – to draw LGBT tourists. Minnesota’s law allowing same-sex couples to marry went into effect in August.

Since then, according to a survey by The Associated Press, same-sex couples have received nearly 1 in 3 marriage licenses issued in Minnesota.

At least 1,640 same-sex couples have applied to be married since Aug. 1.

The AP reported that demand for licenses was heaviest in metropolitan areas, with three of every four licenses for gay marriages issued in Hennepin and Ramsey counties, which make up about 32 percent of Minnesota’s population.

Marriage equality could bring $45 million to the state through increased spending on wedding and tourism businesses and through a rise in total state and local tax revenue, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

Thirteen states and the District of Columbia have legalized same-sex marriage.