A prominent lawyer who spent years fighting for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people set himself on fire Saturday.
David S. Buckel's charred remains were found in a New York park, The New York Times reported. In a letter Buckel emailed to the publication and other media outlets earlier that day, he wrote, "Honorable purpose in life invites honorable purpose in death."
A former marriage project director for Lambda Legal, a nonprofit organization that advocates for the rights of LGBT people, Buckel played a major role in a long, dark battle for recognition and equality.
In one of his most noted cases, he represented the mother of Brandon Teena, a transgender man who had notified a Nebraska sheriff that he had been raped. The sheriff informed Teena's assailants who killed him in the days that followed. "It should not be the case that reporting a crime makes matters worse for you," Buckel told The Daily Nebraskan in 2001. Eventually the sheriff was found liable for failing to protect Teena and his brutal murder was dramatized in a film called Boys Don't Cry starring Hillary Swank.
By 2016, Buckel was focusing on protecting the environment.
On the last day of his life, he reportedly emphasized environmental responsibility, stating in a note to the media, "Pollution ravages our planet, oozing inhabitability via air, soil, water and weather. 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."