Gay Civil Rights Lawyer Dies After Setting Himself On Fire

Prospect park Brooklyn

A lawyer known for his gay rights advocacy committed a "protest suicide" Saturday by lighting himself on fire to denounce global warming.

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.

"Most humans on the planet now breathe air made unhealthy by fossil fuels, and many die early deaths as a result - my early death by fossil fuel reflects what we are doing to ourselves", the note read, according to the New York Times which received an emailed copy.

Mr Buckel was the lead lawyer in a case in which police in Nebraska were found to have failed to protect Brandon Teena, a transgender teen who had been raped and assaulted and was later murdered in the state of Nebraska. Hillary Swank won an Oscar for her portrayal of Swank in the 1999 film.

Buckel also the strategist behind same-sex marriage cases in New Jersey and Iowa.

In the note, Buckel referenced the Tibetan monk protesters who set themselves on fire in protest the Chinese occupation in Tibet, arguably an image that has captured resistance and protests more powerfully than any other. Honorable goal in life invites honorable purchase in death.


"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".

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

Told Irena Ryjova, 44 who came past the 'mass" just after 7 am, an hour after Buckel burned himself, "It was just lying there, on its back, knees slightly bent like someone would lie on the sand at the beach'. Police said he was pronounced dead at about 6:30am.

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 said that privilege comes with the suffering of others. He was the senior organics recovery coordinator for the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's NYC Compost Project.

She added: "He was a very smart and methodical lawyer". David Buckel, 60, was was "one of the architects of the freedom to marry and marriage equality movement", says a former colleague at Lambda Legal. Our hearts go out to all who knew him. David was a handsome human being who was universally kind to everyone at Lambda Legal, committed to his clients, and devoted to our work'.

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