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Longtime State Senator Allan Spear Dies

Allan Spear, one of the first openly gay legislators, died Sunday at the age of 71, reported the Pioneer Press.

Spear died of complications following heart surgery on Thursday.

A member of the state senate from 1972 to his retirement in 2000, Spear was a member of Minnesota's DFL party. He championed human rights and fought to amend Minnesota's Human Rights Act to prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation. The legislation finally, which he started supporting in the '70s was finally passed in 1993.

Spear announced he was gay in an interview with the Minneapolis Star newspaper in 1974, becoming one of two openly gay legislators in the country, reported The Star Tribune.

Spear was a former history professor at the University of Minnesota and, as part of Minnesota's sesquicentennial celebration, was named one of the 150 people who shaped Minnesota.

Spear is survived by his partner, Junjiro Tsuji, and his brother, Richard Spear.