Tuesday, April 17

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Popular gay rights lawyer sets himself on fire in protest

by Staff writer



A prominent gay rights lawyer who led lawsuits legalizing same-sex marriage in the US set himself on fire in Brooklyn on Saturday morning in a fatal plea for action on issues related to the environment.

The body of David S. Buckel, 60, was found near Prospect Park's baseball fields about 6:30 a.m. on Saturday after a passerby reported a severely burned individual, the New York Police Department said.


"I am David Buckel and I just killed myself by fire as a protest suicide," read a handwritten suicide note, according to the New York Daily News.

"I apologize to you for the mess."

Another note found near his body, which was also emailed to local news outlets, said his self-immolation was a call to action, according to The New York Times.



David S. Buckel in 2006.

"Pollution ravages our planet, oozing inhabitability via air, soil, water and weather," he wrote in an email, according to the Times.

"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."

Buckel, who had recently turned his energies to environmental causes, is known for directing major same-sex marriage cases in Iowa and New Jersey in his role as marriage project director for Lambda Legal, a nonprofit organization that promotes civil rights for the LGBT community.

He also worked on a lawsuit on behalf of Brandon Teena, a transgender man who was raped and murdered in Falls City, Nebraska, in 1993.

Teena's story was portrayed in the movie "Boys Don't Cry." For her portrayal of Teena, Hilary Swank won the Academy Award for best actress.

Buckel was also the attorney for Jamie Nabozny, a gay man who sued his former public high school in Wisconsin for failing to prevent consistent and significant anti-gay bullying and abuse.

The case, known as Nabozny v. Podlesny, ultimately ruled in 1996 that schools have a responsibility to protect students from anti-gay abuse.


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