David S. Buckle, 60, a nationally recognized lawyer due to his fight for gay rights died after having set himself on fire as a way to protest. The immolation took place in Prospect Park in Brooklyn early Saturday morning.

Buckle’s immolation was part of an environmental protest. In fact, he left a note asking people to protect the planet and to have less selfish lives. The remains of the attorney were found in a field near baseball diamonds, which was the main loop used by joggers and bikers.

“Pollution ravages our planet, oozing inhabitability via air, soil, water, and weather,” said the note. “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.”

An advocator for gay right and the environment protection

Buckel was the lead attorney in Brandon vs. County of Richardson – a cause that concluded that a Nebraska county sheriff was liable for failing to protect a transgender man, Brandon Teena, who was murdered in Falls City. The story was portrayed in the 1999 movie “Boys Don’t Cry.” Hilary Swank won an academy award for his role as Mr. Teena.

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David Buckel, 60, set himself on fire on Saturday morning. Image credit: Getty

Buckel had a leading role in crucial same-sex marriage cases in New Jersey and Iowa, while he served as marriage project director and senior counsel at Lambda Legal – which is a national organization that fights for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals.

He left the organization and became involved in environmental causes.

He wrote a note before setting himself on fire on Saturday morning. He left it in a shopping cart near his body, and also emailed it to several news media. One of the press he sent the note to was the New York Times, which received it at 5:55 a.m.

Buckel was one of the architects of freedom of marrying and marriage equality movements

The attorney highlighted the difficulty of improving the world, even for those who tried hard to do so.

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Buckel on the left in 1999 besides James Dale, a man he was defending for being kicked out of the Boys Scouts when the leaders found out he was gay. Image credit: Getty

“Many who drive their own lives to help others often realize that they do not change what causes the need for their help,” expressed Mr. Buckel on his note, adding that donating to organizations was not enough.

He said that privilege comes with the suffering of others. He said he was privileged for having “good health to the final moment.” He said he wanted his death to lead to more actions.

Buckel set himself on fire with fossil fuels. His death was pronounced by the police at 6:30 a.m.

“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,” said Susan Sommer, a former attorney  for Lambda Legal “I learned so much from him about the emotional center of what it means for a gay person not to be able to have all the protections for the person they love and that it’s worth fighting for,” she added. Now, Sommer is the general counsel for the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice. She called Buckel “one of the architects of the freedom to marry and marriage equality movement.”

Source: The New York Times