A prominent gay rights attorney, who led lawsuits legalizing same-sex marriage, set himself on fire in Prospect Park located near Brooklyn on the morning of April 7th.
The body of David Buckle, 60, was found near the Park’s baseball field at 6:30am after a passerby reported a “severely burned individual.” Mr Buckle left a note in a shopping cart not far from his body and also emailed it to several news outlets, including the New York Times.
“I am David Buckle and I just killed myself by fire as protest…I apologize for the mess.”
Another note found near his body chronicles his self-immolation was a call to action for the individual deeply devoted to environmental causes.
“Pollution ravages our planet, oozing in habitability via air, soil, water and weather,” he wrote in the email sent 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 with Brandon Teena, a transgender man who was raped and murdered in Falls City, Nebraska in 1993.
The attorney was also instrumental in the landmark Supreme Court case, Nabonzy vs. Podlesny, ultimately ruling that schools have a responsibility to protect students from anti-gay abuse.
Camilla Taylor, Lambda Legal’s acting legal director, said in a statement that Buckel was a “brilliant legal visionary” who was universally kind to all he worked with.
Although society has tragically lost such an influential individual…the suicide is lined with a certain beauty that allows us to reflect upon our impact to the environment and how we much treat the Earth, and each other, with proper care.