Allan Spear

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Allan H. Spear
7th President of the Minnesota Senate
In office
January 1993 – January 2001
Preceded byJerome M. Hughes
Succeeded byDon Samuelson
Member of the Minnesota Senate
from the 57th, then 59th, then 60th district
In office
Personal details
Born(1937-06-24)June 24, 1937
Michigan City, Indiana
DiedOctober 11, 2008(2008-10-11) (aged 71)
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Political partyMinnesota Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party
SpouseJunjiro 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.


Spear was born to a Jewish family in Michigan City, Indiana.[1] 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.[2] 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.

Spear 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[2]) and was elected Senator from there, and was reelected until his retirement in 2000.

Spear came out on December 9, 1974,[3] and 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.[citation needed]

1990s and later[edit]

Spear was instrumental in passing the 1993 Minnesota Human Rights Act, which guaranteed protection from discrimination in education, employment, and housing to LGBT[4] 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).[5]

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. Allan Spear died on October 11, 2008, from complications following heart surgery earlier that week.[6] He was survived by his partner of 26 years, Junjiro Tsuji, who died on March 13, 2019.[7]

He had partially completed an autobiography (Crossing the Barriers ISBN 9780816670406) at his death; a colleague of his in the Minnesota Senate, John Watson Milton, provided an afterword listing the accomplishments of his later years. This book was published in 2010.[8]


  1. ^ "Oberlin College LGBT Community History Project » Personal Histories". Archived from the original on June 23, 2018. Retrieved June 23, 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Minnesota Legislative Reference Library: Minnesota Legislators Past & Present". Archived from the original on January 3, 2020. Retrieved February 22, 2008.
  3. ^ Booth, Karen Louise (July 4, 2000). "Minnesota's Spear calls it a day". Archived from the original on April 26, 2005. Retrieved March 21, 2007.
  4. ^ "Minnesota Statutes definition of sexual orientation". Archived from the original on October 5, 2011. Retrieved October 13, 2008. This was the first United States state law protecting transgender people.
  5. ^ Preston, Joshua. "Allan Spear and the Minnesota Human Rights Act." Minnesota History 65 (2016): 76-87.
  6. ^ "Longtime State Senator Allan Spear Dies". October 12, 2008. Archived from the original on December 3, 2008. Retrieved October 12, 2008.
  7. ^ Kim Palmer (March 29, 2019). "Salon owner and senator's longtime partner, Junjiro 'Jun' Tsuji, dies at 78". The Star Tribune. Archived from the original on September 29, 2022. Retrieved April 21, 2023.
  8. ^ "University of Minnesota Press info". October 30, 2010. Archived from the original on July 25, 2010. Retrieved December 6, 2010.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by President of the Minnesota Senate
Succeeded by