Dear Mayor Rybak:
You have been clear that your three-state tour promoting marriage equality in Minnesota is driven by your desire to increase tourism dollars in Minneapolis. Since Illinois, Colorado and Wisconsin have yet to approve same-sex marriage, there is an opportunity to woo gay and lesbian couples from those states to exchange vows in the “City of Lakes,” and leave millions of dollars with the hospitality industries before returning to their home states. It makes good economic sense, and it accomplishes so much more than simply adding revenue to the local coffers.
In a subtle and effective way, your “Marry Me in Minneapolis” campaign continues the nationwide movement for marriage equality. In Chicago, you reminded leaders and voters that Illinois has yet to do the right thing and legalize same-sex marriage. In Madison, Milwaukee and cities in Colorado, your economic campaign will have the added value of keeping the issue on the front burner of peoples’ consciousness. And there is another added value to your innovative campaign.
Some gay and lesbian people from these three states will come to Minneapolis to marry and they will leave money behind with caterers, hotels and florists. A few of them will also realize that right now, Minneapolis is a more welcoming city to live and work in. States that don’t wake up to this fact will, inevitably, see a drain of talent as gays and lesbians relocate to communities – like Minneapolis – where they truly are equal citizens.
While your focus with this tour is on generating revenue for Minneapolis, I also personally know your commitment to the issue. When my partner and I became one of the 1,640 couples who applied for a marriage license in Minnesota, we knew who we wanted to perform the ceremony. You graciously agreed to open your office and marry us on August 30th.
Your motivation for the “Marry Me in Minneapolis” campaign may be economic, but you truly understand the significance of what Minnesota has done. As you said at the start of our wedding, “We are gathered here to make history in the name of love.”
You just can’t put a price tag on that.