Longtime state senator Allan Spear dies

Allan Spear, a former president of the Minnesota Senate, human rights advocate and one of the first openly gay state legislators in the country, died Saturday of complications following surgery according to the Star Tribune.

Spear was known for his charisma and his constant fight for the rights of the vulnerable. He was in the state Legislature for 28 years.

From the Star Tribune:

Friends described Spear as a Renaissance man, with an encyclopedic knowledge of history and a passion for cooking, travel and classical music. He lived with his partner, Junjiro Tsuji, for more than 20 years.

Spear's sense of humor was legendary on the Senate floor, where he annually fought against a hunting season for mourning doves by reciting a hilarious recipe that underscored the ridiculously large number of the birds needed to create a meal.

"He was a brilliant thinker and such a generous friend who was deeply committed to economic and social justice," said Rep. Karen Clark, DFL-Minneapolis.

Clark, who worked for years with Spear on a state human rights bill that included protection for people based on their sexual orientation, said Spear became a mentor to gay and lesbian public officials nationwide.

Spear served in the Minnesota Senate from 1972 to 2000, when he retired. He was president of the Senate from 1993 to 2000 and was the first nonlawyer to head the Senate Judiciary Committee. He represented a Minneapolis district that included the University of Minnesota campus.

Keep Clark's activism and support of human rights alive tonight at a local vigil to remember the 10th anniversary of Matthew Shepard's death. Shepard's mother, Judy Shepard, will lead a candlelight vigil in Loring Park tonight for her son who was brutally tortured and murdered in Wyoming because of his sexuality.

Here are the details, according to The Rake:

Following the vigil, there will be a theatrical reading of The Laramie Project, the play that recounts the tale of what happened on that terrible night in a small Wyoming town. Visit the Matthew Shepard Foundation website for tickets HERE or call or call 303.830.7400, ext. 11.

6:30pm, Loring Park Vigil, 7:30 Women's Club Performance, 410 Oak Grove Street, Minneapolis, Vigil is free, performance $65-$100.

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