LGBTQ Heroes: Steve Endean – the queer man who established the Human Rights Campaign
The Human Rights Campaign – the HRC - is the largest LGBTQ civil rights advocacy group and political lobbying organisation in the US. The HRC focuses on protecting and expanding rights for LGBTQ individuals. Even if you’re not that familiar with the organisation itself, you’ll have benefited from the work that they do – campaigns have included marriage equality, anti-discrimination and hate crimes legislation, as well as HIV/AIDS advocacy.
But who was it that started the HRC? The driving force behind the establishment of this important group was a remarkable man named Steve Endean.
Born in 1948, Endean studied at the University of Minnesota – majoring in political science.
In 1971, while studying at the University of Minnesota, Endean founded the Minnesota Committee for Gay Rights. This organisation later evolved into the Gay Rights Legislative Committee.
Endean also served as co-chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Gay Task Force – an organisation that later became known as the NGLTF.
In 1978, Endean became the director of the Gay Rights National Lobby.
In 1980, Endean established the Human Rights Campaign Fund, and served as its first Executive Director.
Endean was diagnosed with AIDS in 1985. He died of AIDS-related complications in 1993. He was 45.
Despite his deteriorating health, Endean continued to campaign for LGBTQ rights.
In 1991, Endean created the National Endorsement Campaign – an effort to get straight political leaders and media figures to endorse LGBTQ rights.
In 1993, Endean was present at the Minnesota State Capitol when the Legislature passed the Minnesota Human Rights Act, which banned LGBTQ discrimination in housing, employment, and education.
Today, the HRC is the largest LGBT civil rights advocacy group and political lobbying organisation in the US.