Gay state senator dies, aged 71
Allan H. Spear, one of the first out gay US legislators, died on Saturday.
Mr Spear died following complications that developed during heart surgery he underwent on Thursday.
Mr Spear was Senate president from 1993 to his retirement from politics in 2000.
He was first elected to the Senate in 1972 and was a member of Minnesota’s Democratic Farmer Labour Party. He was also the first non-attorney to head the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The legislator came out in 1974 in an interview with the Minneapolis Star, and was one of only two openly gay legislators in America at the time.
Mr Spear campaigned to amend Minnesota’s Human Rights Act so that it would ban homophobic discrimination for two decades. The legislation was eventually passed in 1993.
Senator Roger Moe, who was the Senate’s majority leader when Mr Spear was president, said:
“He was an excellent student of the legislative process. He knew that you had to be tenacious and you had to educate people.“Without a doubt, everyone who served with him would rank him as one of the brightest members who served.
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“Knowledge is power, and because of that he had the ability to bring people together.”The Minnesota Historical Society recently honoured Mr Spear as one of 150 Minnesotans who shaped the state, as part of the state’s 150th anniversary celebrations.