Environmental advocate dies after setting himself on fire in NY

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A famed LGBT rights lawyer was found dead in Brooklyn's Prospect Park early Saturday morning, having reportedly set himself on fire in protest against fossil fuels.

The Daily News reports that Buckel left a suicide note in a shopping cart near his body that said he hoped his death was "honorable" and 'might serve others'.

A jogger on a run through Prospect Park at around 6:15 a.m. spotted a fire on the grass, police sources said.

Buckel was a well known champion for gay rights, and was a lead attorney in the case surrounding Brandon Teena, a transgender teenager who was murdered in Nebraska whose story inspired the film Boys Don't Cry.

Friends said that after he left the organization, Mr. Buckel became involved in environmental causes, which he alluded to in his note as the reason he chose to end his life by self-immolation with fossil fuels.

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"A life of privilege requires actions to balance the harm caused, and the greater the privilege, the greater the responsibility", Buckel added. "Honorable goal in life invites honorable objective in death", he wrote. Friends confirmed that after Buckel left Lambda Legal he got involved with environmental activism.

"The news of David's death is heartbreaking".

In another pivotal case, Buckel won a New Jersey Supreme Court ruling in 2006 acknowledging that gay couples are entitled to the same legal rights and financial benefits as heterosexual married couples.

He'd been doing the work for years - Buckel worked on Brandon v. County of Richardson - where the sheriff's office in 2001 was found liable for failing to protect Teena. "We will honor his life by continuing his fight for a better world", Taylor wrote.

In his note, Buckel invoked the images of protesters setting themselves afire to protest the Chinese occupation of Tibet.

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The 1999 movie earned Hilary Swank an Oscar for her portrayal of Teena.

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

"He was all about justice, but he was also all about what it means to be human", recalls Susan Sommer, a former Lambda Legal attorney.

Sommer added, "He was a very smart and methodical lawyer".

"My name is David Buckel and I just killed myself by fire as a protest suicide", the hand-written message read. Our hearts go out to all who knew him.

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"His thoughtful and engaging advocacy broke through many stubborn misconceptions and showed it was possible and necessary for our movement to speak up for bullied, ostracised LGBT young people", she said in a statement to the Huffington Post.

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