Tag Archives: minneapolis

Mayor courting gays in Chicago, Milwaukee: Marry in Minneapolis

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak was making a pitch on Sept. 5 to gay and lesbian couples in Chicago that they should come to his city to say their vows — and spend their money on weddings — rather than wait for Illinois to join Minnesota in legalizing same-sex marriages.

At a news conference in Chicago’s predominantly gay neighborhood, Rybak said that while he hopes Illinois eventually allows gay marriage, as Minnesota’s Legislature recently voted to do, he plans to take advantage now of his city’s competitive advantage for tourism dollars.

“Have you met Mayor (Rahm) Emanuel?” he joked about the famously competitive Chicago mayor, when asked about whether it is fair to try to persuade residents of another city to leave to get married. “He would do this to me every day of the week.”

Rybak said that if the mayor and Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, both of whom have pushed to legalize gay marriage, should be afraid of all the money they are losing. He said gay marriages could generate tens of millions of dollars in tourism dollars, for everything from hotels to caterers to florists in states where the ceremonies are legal.

Chicago was the first stop on Rybak’s tour to announce his “Marry Me in Minneapolis” campaign, which also will include stops in two other states where gay marriage is not legal – Colorado and Wisconsin.

Rybak’s message is that Chicagoans no longer have to make a long and expensive trip to the coasts to get married, just the six-hour drive to his city. And on Thursday he told the media that couples could fly up to Minneapolis, get married and fly back that night, meaning they would have federal tax benefits that would more than offset the price of a plane ticket.

Many Midwestern gay couples have exchanged vows in Iowa — the only state bordering Illinois that allows same-sex weddings — but Rybak hopes to bring some of that business home with him.

“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 before the trip.

Some Illinois same-sex couples say they are open to the idea, particularly if lawmakers again fail to approve a marriage law soon. Advocates say they fell just a few votes short of getting a proposal passed in the Legislature last spring and hope to push for it again this fall, but its odds are unknown.

“If we can reinforce for our son that we are a family and have something that recognizes that we are a family, we might take the mayor up on his offer,” said Aana Vigen, a college professor in Chicago.

The thought of couples and their families hopping in the car and spending their money elsewhere upsets Emanuel, who spends considerable time trying to generate revenue for the city.

“Failing to extend marriage to gay and lesbian couples is bad for Chicago, bad for Illinois and bad for our local economy and the jobs it creates,” he said in a statement. “Our robust tourism and hospitality industries will thrive most fully when our state hangs out the ‘welcome’ sign for everybody.”

Quinn, who’s overseeing a state grappling with a $100 billion public pension shortfall and billions of dollars in unpaid bills to state service providers, said failure to pass a same-sex marriage law not only “costs people their rights, but also has an economic cost.”

If Minneapolis’ offer attracts even a fraction of the state’s gay couples, it could mean millions of tourism dollars. One study by the Williams Institute, a national think tank at UCLA’s law school, concluded that if Illinois does extend marriage to same-sex couples, half of the state’s approximate 23,000 same-sex couples will get married within three years. And that, the study found, would pump more than $100 million into the state and local economy.

The Williams Institute also found that 60 percent of same-sex couples are traveling out of their home states to get married, at least in the three states that track those statistics.

In some instances, the percentages are even higher. Doug Johnstone, the town clerk of Provincetown, Ma., a Cape Cod town popular with gay tourists, said that more than 80 percent of the 362 marriage licenses issued to gays so far this year have been to out-of-state couples.

A push to pass gay marriage through the Illinois Legislature came up short last spring. Supporters have reinforced their campaign to get it approved and vow to bring the issue back as early as this fall.

Rybak said that while this particular welcome mat is being put out for gay couples, the longer Illinois goes without legalizing same-sex weddings, the more Chicago’s loss will be Minneapolis’ gain.

“You can look to the future and say, Minneapolis and Chicago are competing to attract talent,” he said. “Over time if people have rights here that they don’t have there, it does have a bottom line impact (because) it impacts where you locate your business.”

In Milwaukee…

Rybak will be in Milwaukee on Sept. 9 to talk about the ad campaign and also to invite same-sex couples to say “I do” in his city. He’s scheduled to visit the Milwaukee LGBT Community Center, 1110 Market St. No. 2, at about 11 a.m.

Midnight rings in gay marriages in Minnesota

Same-sex couples shared wedding vows in midnight ceremonies on Aug. 1 in Minnesota, the second Midwestern state to legalize gay marriage.

Gay couples also exchanged vows in Rhode Island, the last state in New England to legalize same-sex marriage.

Minnesota lawmakers passed a marriage equality bill in May, which Gov. Mark Dayton. Same-sex couples began applying for marriage licenses in June in Minnesota, where there is a waiting period before couples can wed.

On the eve of a wedding day for dozens of couples in the state, Minnesotans United PAC, the coalition that led the campaign for marriage equality, celebrated with Married at Midnight and a countdown to the sharing of vows.

One of the first ceremonies took place in the Chapel of Love at the Mall of America in Bloomington. Holli Bartelt and Amy Petrich were engaged in a photo booth at the mall. So, they said, it seemed appropriate to have their wedding at the mall chapel at the stroke of midnight.

In Minneapolis, at city hall, Cathy ten Broeke and Margaret Miles, a couple with 12 years together, became the first same-sex couple to marry, with Mayor R.T. Rybak officiating. After exchanging their vows, they shared a Betty Crocker wedding cake made by master bakers at General Mills, where Miles’ parents once worked.

“I didn’t expect to cry quite that hard,” said a beaming ten Broeke.

In a joint statement before the ceremony, the couple said, “We have been 100 percent committed as a family for 12 years. The legal recognition of our commitment by our beloved Minnesota means that our family will have the legal support and protection that every family wants. We are deeply grateful that our son’s generation will grow up knowing not only that they are held in the arms of a loving community, but are also embraced by the protections and privileges that this legal recognition gives.”

Rybak married about three dozen same-sex couples during the celebration, which included a reception at Hotel Minneapolis, wedding photos courtesy of students at the art institute and a performance by the Twin Cities Gay Chorus.

The mayor said Aug. 1 was a day “for freedom and equal rights in the history of Minneapolis, and we are thrilled to celebrate it with the joy and dignity that these two couples, the others that we will marry and everyone in our city deserves.”

He added, “Aug. 2, and every day after it, will be just like every day should be: one where everyone has the freedom to marry and commit for life to the person that they love.”

Dayton, celebrating all the marriages, said, “This is an extraordinary victory for love and commitment. As I said, when I signed the Freedom to Marry into law: Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness should certainly include the right to marry the person you love. Now it unquestionably does.”

In Rhode Island, government offices opened at regular business hours – 8:30 a.m. – to begin issuing marriage licenses to couples.

Same-sex couples also can marry in California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Washington and Vermont.

Any number of states, including Illinois, could become the next jurisdiction in the United States to legalize same-sex marriage. A marriage equality bill has passed the Illinois Senate and has the support of Gov. Pat Quinn, but still needs votes in the Illinois House.

In Michigan, activists and Democratic lawmakers are exploring routes to overturning an anti-gay marriage amendment and a federal judge is expected to hear a demand for marriage equality later this year.

Drives also are underway for marriage equality in:

• Ohio, where a judge recently recognized the out-of-state marriage of a gay couple.

• Pennsylvania, where a county official outside Philadelphia has begun issuing licenses to gay couples in defiance of state law.

• Florida, where the state’s largest LGBT civil rights group is seeking plaintiffs for a legal challenge.

• New Mexico, where the state attorney general has sided with the ACLU and same-sex couples seeking the freedom to marry. • Oregon, where activists are gathering signatures for a ballot initiative in 2014.

• New Jersey, where lawmakers are working to override Gov. Chris Christie’s veto of a marriage bill but also pursuing a ballot initiative and a legal challenge.

Meanwhile, support for legalizing same-sex marriage continues to climb with voters. In a nationwide Princeton poll in early July, 52 percent of voters said they’d support a federal law making same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states.

St. Paul’s hot in the coldest weather

Residents of St. Paul still bridle over a New York reporter who once described Minnesota’s capital as uninhabitable during the winter months. Hardy local residents well conditioned to the season chuckle over the apparently delicate natures of New York’s residents – or at least its writers.

If anything, St. Paul has become a hot winter destination, with more outdoor activities than you can shake an icicle at. Yes, it’s cold, but as all good Minnesotans know: There’s no bad weather, just unprepared people who don’t know how to dress for the weather.

St. Paul occupies the eastern bank of the Mississippi River that both separates and unites the community of nearly 300,000 with its sister city of Minneapolis. With an almost Old World charm, St. Paul is considered the last city of the East. It’s the hometown of “Prairie Home Companion” creator Garrison Keillor.

On the river’s opposite bank, the more modern city of Minneapolis, the hometown of rocker Prince, is considered the first city of the West. 

During the 1930s, gangster John Dillinger and his cohort vacationed in St. Paul under the approving eye of Police Chief John J. O’Connor. Public Enemy No. 1 and his friends were safe to come and go as long as they registered upon arrival, paid O’Connor a bribe and committed no crimes within the city limits. Such liberal thinking may have helped foster St. Paul’s uniquely independent spirit and feed its slightly raucous character. 

Editors at The Lonely Planet travel guide recently named the Twin Cities among the top 10 U.S. destinations for 2013. They may not have been thinking of the area as a winter destination, but – truth be told – that’s when St. Paul really begins to shine.

Crashed ice craziness

St. Paul’s energy and enthusiasm in the face of subzero temperatures are among the qualities that attracted the Red Bull Crashed Ice competition to the city for the second consecutive year. The relatively new international sport of ice cross-downhill racing involves a 400-meter raised track of glare ice that skaters rocket down singly and in team competition. This year’s field began with 200 competitors from 14 countries, all of whom raced to become one of four finalists.

The event brought more than 115,000 spectators to the slopes of Cathedral Hill Jan. 24-26 to watch the finals. The St. Paul track, built in the shadow of the stately Cathedral of St. Paul, was the most technically challenging of the five worldwide Red Bull-sponsored competitions this season. 

In the end, Minnesota skater Cameron Naasz, the top U.S. competitor, grabbed third-place honors. Highlights from the event will be aired Feb. 16 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on most NBC affiliates.

All that other winter jazz

Crashed Ice wasn’t the only way St. Paul celebrated winter that weekend. The city also turned out in force for the Winter Carnival, an event originated in 1885, when the aforementioned New York reporter referred to the city as “another Siberia, unfit for human habitation.” (Minnesotans have long memories.) Offended by the remark, the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce launched the carnival – a modest version of Mardi Gras held amid the snowdrifts, where it’s too cold for flashing.

Like any such event, the winter carnival elects a king and queen who are attended by a royal court of be-sparkled noblepersons, many in long fur robes and ornate headgear. The Vulcan Krewe, clad in red capes, attends to the court and carries torches.

The carnival features an ice sculpture competition and several parades. Some of the sculptures were very good, considering they were begun using chain saws. The parades drew mixed reviews, but everyone enjoyed the St. Paul Bouncing Team. 

Think of the traditional blanket toss, with seven or eight men clutching a large piece of fabric and catapulting into the air a young woman who then twirls and spins her way down. The technique worked well with the trained team members. It worked less well with the well-dressed female members of the carnival royalty, one of whom landed squarely on her tiara. We hoped there were no puncture wounds to either the participant or, more importantly, the fabric.

Drink up!

For the heartiest of souls there also was the winter Beer Dabbler, a chance for 7,500 thirsty imbibers to drink beer outdoors with the fervent hope that their lips would not stick to their commemorative glasses. More than 100 breweries each poured three to six of their most distinctive brews in a frenzy of froth and fun. 

There was no way to keep up with the bounty of brew, but that didn’t stop many of the participants from trying, especially as both darkness and the temperature fell. However, any fear of freezing was eased by the wall-to-wall bodies that shared the space with beer tables, music stages and food trucks, another fixture of the St. Paul winter scene.

No beer event has ever required this much stamina, we thought as we pushed our way to the front of the next beer line. What must these folks be like when the weather warms up?

We made a note to return in July for the summer edition of the Beer Dabbler to find out.

On the Web: www.visitsaintpaul.com

Minneapolis’ new police chief is openly gay

Minneapolis has sworn in Janee Harteau as the city’s new police chief.

Harteau, a Duluth native, was sworn in as Minneapolis’ 52nd police chief at a ceremony this week at city hall. She is the first female and first openly gay police chief in Minneapolis history.

Harteau’s 13-year-old daughter stood next to her during the ceremony and pinned Harteau with the chief’s badge. Also close by was Harteau’s longtime partner, Sgt. Holly Keegel. Both Keegel and Harteau joined the Minneapolis Police Department in 1987.

Minnesota Public Radio News reports Harteau said her guiding principle as chief is that every officer’s actions should reflect how they would want their family members to be treated.

Harteau replaces Tim Dolan, who retired in November.

Minnesota activists organize for gay marriage push

More than 500 people gathered in Minneapolis over the weekend to discuss strategy for legalizing gay marriage in Minnesota – and how to get enough votes to do it.

Michelle Dibblee, a leader at the Equality and Justice Summit, discussed with one group there how a grass-roots campaign to pass such legislation would work, Minnesota Public Radio reported.

“We’re not close enough to win unless we move some legislators to make what for them might be a challenging decision,” Dibblee said. “To do that they need to hear from constituents and for those legislators to hear from constituents, we need to continue to organize. What we’ll be doing over the course of the next six months is helping you all to connect more deeply in your communities, particularly in those places where we think there are legislators who need constituent pressure to be moved.”

Another participant, Ruth Larson, said it makes political sense to act now.

“We have a Democratic House, Senate and governor,” she said. “Strike while the iron’s hot.”

But Monica Meyer, executive director of OutFront Minnesota, the group that organized the summit, sounded a more cautious note.

“We haven’t really talked about timing,” Meyer said. “The only thing that we’ve really talked about is: How do we build enough support to really make marriage equality a reality and to make it inevitable?”

State Rep. Alice Hausman, D-St. Paul, said lawmakers cannot start real work on the next budget until the February revenue forecast, so they might as well take up same-sex marriage legislation in January.

“Some people say, ‘Well, that means we get off track of the budget.’ And we shouldn’t have other issues dominate,” Hausman said. “But if we don’t deal with this immediately, I would argue it’s going to dominate anyway because it hangs out there.”

Minnesota voters last month rejected a constitutional amendment that would have limited marriage to one man and one woman, but gay marriage was already prohibited under a state statute.

Many Democratic lawmakers come from districts where a majority of voters supported the amendment, and incoming House Majority Leader Erin Murphy would not say if the 2013 Legislature will take up the issue of same-sex marriage.

“I don’t think we should get ahead of Minnesotans,” Murphy said. “They didn’t really ask for this discussion to be raised two years ago when it was put on the ballot, but here we are.”

Andy Parrish, political director of Minnesota for Marriage, which led the effort to write a same-sex marriage ban into the constitution, dared Democrats to act so Republicans can respond. If Democrats choose not to have that fight, he said, they’ll disappoint many of their supporters while Republicans will continue defending the traditional definition of marriage.

“All we can do is sit and wait,” Parrish said. “You’ve got control. Now do it. Show your backbone if you have one.”

Secret Service investigating burned cat left at Obama campaign sign

The Secret Service is investigating an assumed threat to President Barack Obama – a burned cat left staked to a tree stump beside an Obama campaign sign in a Minneapolis park.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported that a park employee early Aug. 13 found the cat’s carcass in Longfellow Park, which led local authorities to alert federal agencies.

The cat was staked with a handheld U.S. flag on a small stick, according to a federal law enforcement official. Standing next to the cat was an Obama/Biden 2012 campaign sign.

The newspaper reported that as of 10 a.m. Aug. 14, no arrests had been made.

The president was traveling in the Midwest. At his closest, he was about 230 miles south of Minneapolis in Iowa.

Minnesota voters are headed to the polls on Aug. 14 to cast ballots in the state primary, which includes selecting candidates for two general election congressional races.

In the November election, voters will decide a number of races for elected office, as well as a ballot initiative to amend the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage.

Four shot outside Gay 90s bar in Minneapolis

Four people are recovering from gunshot wounds following a shooting outside a popular gay entertainment complex in downtown Minneapolis.

Police told KARE-TV that two men armed with guns opened fire after arguing at a nearby apartment building around 2 a.m., injuring three people standing outside the Gay 90s. Three people were shot during the incident, which occurred at bar closing while the streets were filled with people leaving the bar.

Observers said the incident is the latest in a series of violent clashes in the area.  A woman required 100 stitches to her face after being struck with a wine glass at the Gay 90s bar in April.

“Officers were in the area at the time, they actually saw and heard the shootings, they chased two suspects,” Minneapolis Police Chief of Patrol Kris Arneson told reporters. “Two suspects were apprehended at different locations.”

Arneson said one of the suspects was shot by a police officer after threatening him with a gun. The other was taken into custody without incident.

The injuries of the four people who were shot are said to be non-life threatening.

The officer who shot one of the suspects was placed on standard three-day administrative leave. Police said there is no indication the shooting was random.

Minneapolis to host federal LGBT meet

The White House LGBT Conference on Families takes place in Minneapolis on April 28, with speakers from the Justice and Health and Human Services departments.

Preliminary plans include addresses from Bryan Samuels, commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families at Health and Human Services and Stuart Delery, acting assistant attorney general with the Justice Department.

The White House Office of Public Engagement, in partnership with the Family Equality Council, is sponsoring the event.

A White House statement said participants can expect “important updates from senior administration officials and have the opportunity to learn about federal government resources and opportunities through workshop sessions.”

The conference is part of a series that began in February and concludes in June.

Previous conferences covered health, housing and homelessness, safe schools and hate crimes.

Future conferences will cover HIV/AIDS, aging and international human rights.

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Minnesota Lutherans oppose anti-gay constitutional amendment

Minneapolis-area Lutherans have voted to oppose amending the Minnesota Constitution to ban same-sex marriage.

The vote, taken on Feb. 17, made the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America one of the largest faith groups yet to reject the amendment, which goes before voters Nov. 6, reports the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

About 700 Lutherans, representing congregations in the ECLA’s Minneapolis Area Synod voted overwhelmingly for a resolution opposing the anti-gay amendment by raising green cards that said “yes.”

“What we’ve heard today is the Lutheran Church is about welcome, and we proved that with the statement we made,” said Lauren Morse-Wendt, a mission developer with Edina Community Lutheran Church and one of the resolution’s authors. “I believe the people of Minnesota need to know that people of faith stand up for all families. This marriage amendment to define marriage between a man and a woman is a discriminatory amendment which would deliberately deny justice to a portion of the population of Minnesota.”

The synod does not plan to give money to help defeat the amendment, but hopes congregations will study the resolution and “consider how they will respond,” synod spokeswoman Sara Masters told the Star Tribune.

With nearly 800,000 members, the ECLA is Minnesota’s second-largest religious denomination. Roman Catholicism is the state’s largest, with close to 1.1 million members.

Catholic bishops have come out in favor of the anti-gay amendment, raising objections from lay Catholics.

Lesbian couple harassed over quick kiss at Target Field

A lesbian couple say their evening at the ballpark was ruined when a security guard at Minneapolis’ Target Field scolded them for what they called a “brief kiss.”

City Pages reported that the guard confronted Taylor Campione and Kelsi Culpepper on May 27 during the Twins’ home game against the L.A. Angels. After seeing them share a quick peck on the lips, the guard allegedly said to Campione, “I saw you kissing that girl, you can’t do that.”

“I can kiss whoever I want to,” Campione said she replied.

“Well, we don’t play grab ass here,” the guard answered.

Culpepper told the guard, “I don’t understand what’s wrong with kissing my girlfriend.”

“Well, here in the stadium, we adhere to the 10 Commandments,” the guard told Culpepper, who asked to speak to a manager.

“That ruined our entire evening,” Campione told City Pages. “We were super upset, we felt super uncomfortable.”

A spokesman for the Twins said the guard was reprimanded but continues to work at the stadium.

Campione and Culpepper said they’re filing a complaint with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, accusing the security guard of discriminating against them due to their sexual orientation.

“I want a zero-tolerance harassment policy instituted at Target Field,” Culpepper said. “I think it’s pretty pathetic that there isn’t one everywhere already.”