Allan Spear

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Allan H. Spear
Allan Spear.jpg
7th President of the Minnesota Senate
In office
January 1993 – January 2001
Preceded by Jerome M. Hughes
Succeeded by Don Samuelson
Member of the Minnesota Senate
from the 57th, then 59th, then 60th district
In office
1973–2001
Personal details
Born (1937-06-24)June 24, 1937
Michigan City, Indiana
Died October 11, 2008(2008-10-11) (aged 71)
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Junjiro Tsuji

Allan Henry Spear (June 24, 1937 – October 11, 2008) was an American politician and educator from Minnesota who served almost thirty years in the Minnesota Senate, including nearly a decade as President of the Senate.

Biography[edit]

A graduate of Oberlin College (B.A., 1958), he went on to earn an M.A. and a PhD from Yale University (1960 and 1965 respectively). Decades later, Oberlin would also award him an honorary LL.D.[1]

He was first elected to the Minnesota Senate in 1972, representing a liberal Minneapolis district centered on the University of Minnesota. He served a total of 28 years in the senate, retiring in 2000. He was President of the Senate from 1992 to 2000.

He served in the Minnesota Senate representing two Senate districts in Minneapolis. From 1972 to 1982, he represented District 57, the southeast part of Minneapolis, including the University of Minnesota main campus. In 1982, he moved to District 59, the southwest part of Minneapolis, (renamed to District 60 after the 1992 redistricting[1]) and was elected Senator from there, and was reelected until his retirement in 2000.

Having come out of the closet on December 9, 1974,[2] he was one of the first openly gay Americans serving in elected office. His coming out drew national attention, being featured in the New York Times amongst others.

Spear was instrumental in passing the 1993 Minnesota Human Rights Act, which guaranteed protection from discrimination in education, employment, and housing to GLBT[3] Minnesotans. He had been working on this for nearly 20 years, and later called it his "proudest legislative achievement". His personal connections with other Senators during his years in office were important in gaining the votes of Republican colleagues. He gained the public support of the leader of the Senate Republicans, Lutheran minister Dean E. Johnson, who gave a speech supporting the bill on the Senate floor (and was later "censured" by his local Republican party officials, and eventually forced out of the Republican party[citation needed]). At the time, many people believed that gays and lesbians "chose" their sexual orientation. During the debate on this bill, Spear humorously said to his colleagues "I'm 55 years old – this is not a phase I'm going through."

In 2008, as part of Minnesota's Sesquicentennial celebration, the Minnesota Historical Society named him as one of the 150 people and groups that helped shape the state.

Spear died October 11, 2008 from complications following heart surgery earlier that week.[4] He is survived by his partner of 20-plus years, Junjiro Tsuji.

He had partially completed an autobiography (Crossing the Barriers) at his death; a colleague of his in the Minnesota Senate, John Milton, provided an afterword listing the accomplishments of his later years. This book was published in 2010.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Minnesota Legislative Reference Library: Minnesota Legislators Past & Present". Retrieved 2008-02-22. 
  2. ^ Booth, Karen Louise (2000-07-04). "Minnesota's Spear calls it a day". Retrieved 2007-03-21. [dead link]
  3. ^ "Minnesota Statutes definition of sexual orientation". Retrieved 2008-10-13.  This was the first US state law protecting transgender people.
  4. ^ "Longtime State Senator Allan Spear Dies". 2008-10-12. Retrieved 2008-10-12. 
  5. ^ "University of Minnesota Press info". 2010-10-30. Retrieved 2010-12-06. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Jerome M. Hughes
President of the Minnesota Senate
1993–2001
Succeeded by
Don Samuelson