David S. Buckel

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David Buckel was an American Attorney ​ and LGBTQ ​ activist known for representing Joanne Brandon ​ in the murder case of her Transgendered ​ son, Brandon Teena ​. [2] [12] ​ In April, 2018, as an act of protest against Fossil fuels, Buckel incinerated himself at park in Brooklyn ​ - he died from the self-immolation. [3]

Gif of David Buckel from the video where he speaks about how to build a How to Build a Windrow.

Personal Life

Before his death, Mr. Buckel lived the city of Brooklyn ​, where he also worked for a majority of his life. He also lived in other cities and areas of New York. [4] ​ He played a great role in vegetation and ecological projects around New York City ​. [5]

Photo of David Buckel that was taken during a trial.

He is remembered for being a prominent LGBTQ attorney ​ who was a part of a series of American history defining cases. He was known as being a gay youths and couples advocate. [6]


Buckel attended Cornell University ​ for most of his academic career. He graduated with a Juris Doctor ​ degree from Cornell Law School ​. [7]

While at the school, he wrote several key academic papers that would become a part of the essence of the kind of attorney that he would become in the justice system. [8]

Mr. Buckel returned to Cornell Law School in March 2006 to serve on a panel on "Domestic Civil Rights" for the annual Public Interest Law Career Symposium. [9]

David S. Buckel at a vegetation.


For most of his career, Mr. Buckel advocated for gay youths and couples, and was a prominent figure in the ecological movement in New York City. [6]

He served as lead attorney in Brandon v. Richardson County, which held a county sheriff liable for his failure to protect Brandon Teena ​, a murdered transgendered teen whose story was told in the film Boys Don't Cry . [2] [4]

He was also the co-counsel in two Salt Lake City ​ lawsuits concerning the rights of gay high school students to organize a club in their school. [12]

For nearly three decades, Mr. Buckel argued for the rights of gay youths and couples against the Boy Scouts of America, the U.S. military, the I.R.S., and a number of public school systems. [12]

Before joining the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, he was a supervising attorney at Harlem Legal Services, Inc., where he represented low-income and disabled people. [12]


A huge supporter of community composting, Buckel worked at the Added Value Red Hook Community Farm and served as senior Organics Recovery Coordinator for the NYC Compost Project. The project was funded by the city Sanitation Department and based at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. [12]

Gay Rights

The controversial New Jersey Supreme Court ruling on October 25, 2006 asserting that gay couples in the state are entitled to the same legal rights and financial benefits as heterosexual married couples stems from a case argued by Mr. Buckel, who is the senior staff attorney and director of the Marriage Project for the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund. [12]

The ruling, which states that gay couples have constitutional rights to equal treatment under the law, stipulates that the New Jersey legislature must expand the existing domestic partnership law or write new laws within 180 days. In essence, lawmakers must decide whether to allow gays to marry, or to develop parallel civil unions that include all of the same rights as heterosexual marriage. [12]


On April 14th, 2018, while present at the Prospect Park, Mr. Buckel incinerated himself to death. He was discovered after sunrise once the fire department was notified of a fire in the southwest area of the park. When the firefighters and other agents arrived, they found the charred remains of Mr. Buckel. [13]

Mr. Buckel left a suicide note indicating the reasons for his Self-immolation ​, which was done as a protest against Fossil fuels ​. [14]

The suicide note is as follows:

“My name is David Buckel and I just killed myself by fire as a protest suicide... I apologize to you for the mess. My early death by fossil fuel reflects what we are doing to ourselves. A lifetime of service may best be preserved by giving a life ... Honorable purpose in life invites honorable purchase in death. I hope it is an honorable death that might serve others.” [15]

The remains were first found by a jogger at around 6:00 a.m. The jogger took photos and uploaded them on twitter. [16]

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