The idea for the Northstar Project came from Brian Coyle, Minneapolis' openly gay city council member, who was inspired by a needs assessment that was successfully conducted within the Boston Gay and Lesbian community. Coyle called for a similar survey in the Twin Cities area.

The recently formed Gay and Lesbian Community Action Council (GLCAC, now OutFront Minnesota) surveyed the metro area LGBTQ+ community to create Out and Counted: A Survey of the Twin Cities Lesbian and Gay Community (also known as the Northstar survey).

The results of this survey provided crucial data about the needs of constituents in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Subsequently, with pressure around the inclusion of the LGBTQ+ community into the Minnesota Human Rights Act, the Governor's Task Force on Gay and Lesbian Minnesotans was appointed by Governor Rudy Perpich in April, 1990. The Task Force was asked to find whether evidence of discrimination against Gay and Lesbian persons in Minnesota existed and, if necessary, to make recommendations to better the quality of life for these Minnesotans.

Task Force Recommendations

  1. Prohibit discrimination against any person because of sexual orientation.
  2. Repeal adult Minnesota laws sexual behavior concerning private consensual.
  3. Require training in understanding persons involved in law enforcement, care, and human services. homosexuality for education, health.
  4. Establish an on-going state commission to continue the work which this Task Force has begun.

Between the work of GLCAC and the Governor's Task Force, community feedback showed why expanded protections in the Minnesota Human Rights Act was necessary.

Through the work of the Northstar Project, GLCAC learned that their work must expand to include not only community services and direct support, but also policy advocacy and systems change.

The next governor's task force released its report in 1995. It was not until 2023 when the state legislature created a dedicated Council on LGBTQIA2S+ Minnesotans. 

The 1991 report from the Governor's Task Force on Lesbian and Gay Minnesotans and Out and Counted, the report on the work of The Northstar Project in 1988, provided the foundation to support LGBTQ+ inclusion into the Minnesota Human Rights Act.

The Council on LGBTQIA2S+ Minnesotans works to implement economic, social, legal, and political equality for Minnesota's community of people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, gender expansive, queer, intersex, asexual, or two-spirit.