Illinois Makes Same-Sex Marriage Official, Businesses Prepare for Wedding Boom

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LAURA DYE ON FLICKR
  • Laura Dye on Flickr

Missouri's neighbor Illinois officially became the sixteenth state to approve same-sex marriage on Wednesday, when Governor Pat Quinn signed the historic bill into law.

The new rules won't go into effect until June 1, giving gay couples time, as Democratic Lieutenant Governor Shelia Simon put it, "to stop planning rallies and start planning weddings."

See also: Illinois House Approves Same-Sex Marriage

The change could mean St. Louis couples traveling to Illinois for marriage trips, and Illinois is getting ready for the tourism dollars to start rolling in. A 2013 UCLA study says allowing same-sex marriage in Illinois could bring in $103 million in new spending in the first three years, according to NBC Chicago.

The state has already updated its website to promote gay-friendly venues and events in Illinois.

Roger Schmitz - RIPPON KINSELLA HOUSE

Roger Schmitz, proprietor at the Rippon Kinsella House bed and breakfast in Springfield, says he expects to get some calls from Missouri gay couples who want to make their union legal, even though Missouri's constitution forbids it.

He's already hosted unofficial wedding ceremonies for Missouri couples at his B&B.

"They just wanted to do it to make a statement," he says.

That's not why Schmitz wants to get married. After 37 years together, Schmitz and his boyfriend can't fully legally protect their assets from their families, despite having a clear, detailed will. But if they get married this summer, they'll be protected under spousal privilege.

"In my business, almost everybody is gay-friendly," Schmitz says. "They don't care. They're educated. We pay our taxes, and we want to be left alone."

Follow Lindsay Toler on Twitter at @StLouisLindsay. E-mail the author at Lindsay.Toler@RiverfrontTimes.com.

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