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Famed LGBT rights lawyer burns himself to death in Prospect Park

15 April 2018, 10:24 | Devin Moran

A Famous LGBT Rights Lawyer Set Himself On Fire In New York As A "Protest Suicide"

Police closed off a large patch of lawn as bewildered parkgoers began to stream into the park. The man's death is an apparent suicide cops said

A prominent LGBT rights lawyer and environmental advocate was found dead in NY on Saturday (April 14), after reportedly setting himself on fire using fossil fuel in a protest against ecological destruction.

Police say the charred remains of 60-year-old David Buckel were found early Saturday in Brooklyn's Prospect Park.

He left the note in a manila envelope marked "To The Police", recovered from inside a black metal pushcart he discarded at the scene.

"Honorable goal in life invites honorable objective in death", he concluded. Hilary Swank won an Academy Award for her portrayal of Teena in the 1999 film Boys Don't Cry. "Honorable goal in life invites honorable objective in death", Buckel wrote in the email to the Times.

"My name is David Buckel and I just killed myself by fire as a protest suicide", the hand-written message read.

As senior counsel and marriage project director at Lambda Legal, a national LGBT civil rights organization, Buckel was a strategist behind notable same-sex marriage cases in Iowa and New Jersey that were key in advancing the marriage equality movement.

Buckel said he wanted his death to lead to increased action.




"My early death by fossil fuel reflects what we are doing to ourselves", Buckel wrote.

"It's a very important case, not only within Nebraska but nationally", Buckel said after the $80,000 judgment against the city, according to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's student newspaper the Daily Nebraskan. But he was best known as a champion of gay rights.

He also helped a Pennsylvania woman win a lawsuit allowing her to place the epitaph "beloved life partner" on the headstone of her gay partner.

Buckel ran the NYC Composting Project out of Red Hook Community Farm.

'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. "This is a tremendous loss for our Lambda Legal family, but also for the entire movement for social justice", Camilla Taylor, the group's director of constitutional litigation, said in a statement.

The New York Times quoted friends of Buckel as saying that he became involved in environmental causes after leaving Lambda Legal. "He knew his craft and his trade and was strategic in how to build the blocks toward a sweeping victory".

Buckel went to great lengths to make sure that first responders knew who he was and why he took his own life. "David helped create Lambda Legal's focus on LGBT youth", Taylor continued, detailing Buckel's work on a case that led a federal court to rule that schools "have an obligation to prevent anti-gay bullying".



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