Steve Endean

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Stephen Robert "Steve" Endean (August 6, 1948 – August 4, 1993) was an early gay rights activist, first in Minnesota, then nationally.

He was born in Davenport, Iowa, and came to Minnesota to attend the University of Minnesota from 1968-1972, majoring in political science.[citation needed]

In 1971, Endean founded the Minnesota Committee for Gay Rights (later Gay Rights Legislative Committee), and became the first gay and lesbian rights lobbyist in Minnesota a year later.[citation needed] Along with the Minnesota Committee for Gay Rights and Democratic legislators, Endean opposed trans-inclusion and public accommodations in a statewide gay rights bill, giving as their reason the belief that the bill would not pass with such inclusion.[1] In the 1970s, he served as co-chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Gay Task Force (later NGLTF). In 1978, he became the director of the Gay Rights National Lobby. In 1980, he started the Human Rights Campaign Fund (later just HRC), and served as its first Executive Director.

In 1985, Endean was diagnosed with AIDS. After this, increasing health problems led to semi-retirement.[citation needed]

In 1991, he created the National Endorsement Campaign, an effort to get straight political leaders and media figures to endorse LGBT rights. Also in 1991, he published his memoir, Into the Mainstream. In 1993, he was present (in a wheelchair) at the Minnesota State Capitol when the Legislature passed the Minnesota Human Rights Act, which banned LGBT discrimination in housing, employment, and education.[2]

Endean died of AIDS-related complications on August 4, 1993.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Carl Griffin, Jr. "'No Compromise' Gay Coalition May Sink Rights Bill, The Advocate, May 7, 1975, p. 4
  2. ^ Preston, Joshua. "Allan Spear and the Minnesota Human Rights Act." Minnesota History 65 (2016): 76-87.