Attorney that fought for gay rights dies after setting himself on fire

Remigio Civitarese
Aprile 16, 2018

Members of the public discovered the remains of David Buckel in a NY park, with the 60-year-old reportedly leaving a suicide note in a nearby shopping trolley. He left a suicide note saying that his death reflected what humans were doing to the planet, it was reported.

His final note said he had "good health to the final moment", but wanted others to be spurred to action, according to the Times: "Honorable goal in life invites honorable objective in death".

Buckel was the lead attorney in a case surrounding Brandon Teena, a transgender teenager who was murdered in Nebraska in 1993. Hilary Swank won an Oscar for her portrayal of Teena in the 1999 movie Boys Don't Cry.

While serving as marriage project director and senior counsel at Lambda Legal, a national organization that fights for the civil rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, Mr. Buckel was the strategist behind important same-sex marriage cases in New Jersey and Iowa. In normally vibrant Prospect Park, where Buckel ended his life, police and firefighters gathered around what the Times calls a "grim scene".

David Buckel self immolation suicide at Brooklyn's Prospect Park.David Buckel activist self immolation suicide protest death: A fighter of discrimination.

'Here is a hope that giving a life might bring some attention to the need for expanded actions, and help others give a voice to our home, and Earth is heard'.

Buckel set himself on fire with fossil fuels. But he was best known as a champion of gay rights.

New York Daily News notes that Buckel also argued against Boy Scouts of America's ban on gay leaders and for the establishment of a Utah high school's gay student club.

He was also a nationally renown pioneer in #CommunityComposting and one of my mentors.

'There's no denying that sticking with renewable resources means a lot of elbow grease with pitchforks and shovels, ' he wrote in a 2016 article on the Botanic Garden Web site.

"He deserves tremendous thanks for recognizing this was in many ways at the heart of what it meant to be gay for many Americans and making it a priority", Susan Sommer, a former attorney for Lambda Legal, told the Times. "He knew his craft and his trade and was strategic in how to build the blocks toward a sweeping victory". He will be remembered for his kindness, devotion, and vision for justice, Camilla Taylor, Lambda Legal's director of constitutional litigation and acting legal director said in a statement. Friends confirmed that after Buckel left Lambda Legal he got involved with environmental activism.

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