Allan Spear

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Winning Nomination

Senator Allan Spear was the first openly gay member of the Minnesota Legislature and the longest serving openly gay state legislator in the nation when he retired in 2000. Senator Spear was the second elected official in the nation to publicly acknowledge being gay, and he is widely known as the founder of a movement to encourage openly gay citizens to run for office and to help other gay elected officials come out to the public.

Senator Spear moved to Minneapolis in 1964 to join the faculty of the History Department at the University of Minnesota after receiving his Ph. D. in history from Yale University. Admired by students and colleagues alike for his intelligence and talent as a teacher and a scholar, he was also a long-time Democrat who quickly became active in state politics.

He was first elected to the Minnesota State Senate in 1972. He was elected president of the Minnesota State Senate 1993 and later that year succeeded in guiding the passage of Minnesota's GBLT civil rights law. Today, Senator Spear is still broadly praised as one of the Senate's most skilled and impartial presidents.
~Scott Dibble, St. Paul, MN


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History

(1937- )

A longtime activist makes political history

In 1993, the Minnesota Legislature amended the Human Rights Act to prohibit discrimination in housing, employment, and other areas for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) people. State senator Allan Spear, the nation's first gay man in public office to acknowledge his orientation, sponsored the legislation in the Senate. "That was a twenty-year struggle," Spear said of the legislation. In 1978, St. Paul had rejected a citywide ordinance guaranteeing GLBT rights, but in 1991 the city's voters passed the ordinance. That move helped clear the way for the statewide law. "People realized the world was not going to end, and I was able to put together a coalition to pass a state law that I hadn't been able to do before."

Allan Spear moved to Minneapolis in 1964 to join the faculty of the University of Minnesota's History Department. He had been involved in civil rights actions during his student days at Oberlin College and at Yale University and quickly became active in Minnesota's DFL party. He was first elected to the Minnesota State Senate in 1972. Two years later, he announced that he was gay-only the second elected official in the United States to do so. "It seemed to me it was going to come out anyway," he later said. "I chose the reporter I gave the story to."

Spear was elected president of the Minnesota State Senate in 1992 and served in that role until his retirement in 2000. He left public office as the longest serving openly gay state legislator in the nation.

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