Spear, Allan H.

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1937-06-24
Death 2008-10-11
Americans
English

Biographical notes:

Allan H. Spear was born Michigan City, Indiana in 1937. He graduated from Oberlin College in 1958 and earned an M.A.(1960) and a PhD from Yale University (1965). In 1965, Spear was hired in the History Department at the University of Minnesota to teach American and African American History. He continued to teach at the University while serving in the Minnesota Legislature.

Spear was elected to the Minnesota State Senate on the DFL ticket in 1972. He served in districts that were reapportioned, representing Hennepin County districts 57 (1973-1983), 59 (1983-1992), and 60 (1993-2000). Spear was elected the seventh President of the Minnesota Senate, holding office between 1993 and 2000, and was the first legislator who was not an attorney to chair the State Judiciary committee. He served on the State Crime Prevention Committee, State Board Council, and the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Boards.

On December 9th, 1974 Spear publicly announced that he was gay, becoming one of the first openly gay state legislators in the United States. As an openly gay public official, he was involved in a number of organizations and efforts working towards political, legal and social equity for the GLBT community. With State Representative Karen Clark, Spear co-founded The National Gay and Lesbian Elected and Appointed Officials. His leadership in the Minnesota Senate was instrumental in the passage of the 1993 Minnesota State Human Rights Act, which guaranteed protection from discrimination against gays and lesbians in education, housing, and employment in Minnesota

Spear retired from both the University and the Minnesota Senate in 2000. In 2008, the Minnesota Historical Society named him one of 150 Minnesotans who shaped the state.

Allan Spear died in 2008 following heart surgery. He is survived by his partner of more than 20 years, Junjiro Tsuji.

From the guide to the Allan Spear papers, 1937-2010, (University of Minnesota Libraries. Jean-Nickolaus Tretter Collection in Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Studies [scrbt])

Allan H. Spear served on the Minnesota Senate from 1973-2000, representing District 57 (1973-1982), 59 (1983-1992), and 60 (1993-2000) of Hennepin County, and was of the Democratic Farmer Labor Party. He announced he was gay in 1974, becoming one of the first openly gay state legislators in the United States. He was President of the Senate from 1993-2000, and was the first legislator to chair the Senate Judiciary Committee who was not an attorney.

He also served for 18 years on the Crime Prevention Committee, and was a co-founder of the National Gay and Lesbian Elected and Appointed Officials and a board member of the OutFront Minnesota PAC. He was also a member of the State Board Council and the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board from 2001-2003.

He earned a B.A. from Oberlin College in Ohio in 1958, an M.A. from Yale University in 1960, and a Ph.D. in history from Yale University in 1965.

He was instrumental in the passage in 1993 of the Minnesota State Human Rights Act, gurrenteeing protection against discrimination for gays and lesbians.

Spear died on October 11, 2008.

From the guide to the Allan H. Spear legislative records., 1972-2000., (Minnesota Historical Society)

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Subjects:

  • Child abuse--Law and legislation
  • Criminal justice, Administration of--Minnesota
  • Sexual minorities
  • Child abuse--Law and legislation--Minnesota
  • Adoption--Law and legislation
  • Criminal law
  • Gay rights
  • Minorities--Legal status, laws, etc
  • Criminal procedure--Minnesota
  • Gay rights--Minnesota
  • Criminal procedure
  • Adoption--Law and legislation--Minnesota
  • Criminal justice, Administration of
  • Child care--Minnesota
  • AIDS (Disease)
  • Child care
  • Criminal law--Minnesota

Occupations:

  • Legislators--Minnesota

Places:

  • Minnesota (as recorded)