The same week that a group of state lawmakers introduced legislation that would bring marriage equality to Illinois, the state's tourism office introduced a new section of its website specifically aimed at attracting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) travelers.
The new section, titled Pride Illinois, brings together information about LGBT-friendly local lodging, events and other attractions among other resources.
Democratic Governor Pat Quinn, who last year enthusiastically approved civil union legislation but on Tuesday commented that he is "not sure" if he would support the legalization of same-sex marriage in the state, said in a news release that "tailoring the site to meet the needs of LGBT travelers will help them make the most of their visit while supporting the growing Illinois tourism industry."
The release goes on to describe the section as furthering the governor's "efforts to boost tourism and foster equality in Illinois" by featuring TAG approved properties, meaning, accommodations that enforce non-discriminatory policies and provide LGBT diversity and sensitivity employee trainings.
Not everyone is enthused by the state's new push for LGBT visitors. The right-leaning Illinois Review blog reported Saturday that "Illinois is officially promoting tourist sites where gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders can meet other like-sexed folks and boost the state's economy."
"If you as an Illinois taxpayer resist this expenditure in a year when our state's budget is only getting further and further into red ink, let your state legislators know," the posting urges.
As Forbes reported last month, the most recent Gay and Lesbian Travel Survey, released by San Francisco-based Community Marketing Inc., found that gay and lesbian tourism generates at least $65 billion a year in the United States alone.
While the report [PDF] found that while Chicago ranked as the fourth most popular LGBT leisure destination -- behind New York, San Francisco and Las Vegas -- no other Illinois cities made the top 20.