The body of David S. Buckel, 60, was found near Prospect Park’s baseball fields about 6:30 a.m. on Saturday after a passerby reported a severely burned individual, the New York Police Department said.
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 on a lawsuit on behalf of Brandon Teena, a transgender man who was raped and murdered in Falls City, Nebraska, in 1993. Teena’s story was portrayed in the movie “Boys Don’t Cry.” For her portrayal of Teena, Hilary Swank won the Academy Award for best actress.
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.
“This is a tremendous loss for our Lambda Legal family, but also for the entire movement for social justice,” Taylor said. “David was an indefatigable attorney and advocate, and also a dedicated and loving friend to so many. He will be remembered for his kindness, devotion and vision for justice.”
Legal work for gay rights
Buckel was the attorney for Jamie Nabozny, a gay man who sued his former public high school in Wisconsin for failing to prevent consistent and significant anti-gay bullying and abuse.
“(Buckel’s) thoughtful and engaging advocacy broke through many stubborn misconceptions and showed it was possible and necessary for our movement to speak up for bullied, ostracized LGBT young people,” Taylor said of the case.
Buckel led Lambda Legal’s efforts to legalize same-sex marriage in the United States, the organization said.
“The decision vindicated David’s firm belief that we could win such cases even in the heartland, and propelled us to victories elsewhere,” Taylor said of the case.
“We have lost a movement leader, a colleague, and a friend. We will honor his life by continuing his fight for a better world,” Taylor added.