Buckel was the lead attorney in Brandon vs. County of Richardson - a cause that concluded that a Nebraska county sheriff was liable for failing to protect a transgender man, Brandon Teena, who was murdered in Falls City. He won several trailblazing cases, including a 2005 case that led to same-sex marriage legalization in Iowa and a 2006 case establishing equal financial and legal rights for gay couples in New Jersey.
The 60-year-old's body was found near the baseball fields at Brooklyn's Prospect Park.
In his suicide notes, Buckel compared his death to that of Tibetan monks who have committed suicide in a similar manner to protest Chinese rule over the region.
Lambda details Buckel's involvement in other important cases. The 1999 film Boys Don't Cry was based on the incident. It was the first time a federal court had ever held that schools have an obligation to prevent anti-gay bullying, and put schools across the country on notice that they were responsible for putting a stop to it.
The case, known as Nabozny v. Podlesny, ultimately ruled in 1996 that schools have a responsibility to protect students from anti-gay abuse. As he embarked on the marriage equity case, he asked his future legal partner, "Do you want to be involved in the greatest civil rights movement of our time?". Please check your email for a welcome confirmation.
By 2016, Buckel was focusing on protecting the environment.
"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", another section read.
It was a warm, sunny morning, and a Twitter account by Prospect Park had tweeted, "Host your child's next birthday party in Brooklyn's Backyard".
"Pollution ravages our planet, oozing inhabitability via air, soil, water and weather", Buckel wrote. According to the Times, authorities had removed Buckel's body by 11 a.m., leaving a black, circular patch.
Nationally known gay rights lawyer David S. Buckel died after setting himself on fire in NY on Saturday morning in a protest against destructive ecological practices. "It is being treated at the time as a suicide but it's still under investigation", a spokesperson said.
In response to Buckel's self-immolation, Lambda's Acting Legal Director, Camilla Taylor, issued a statement that includes: "David also led Lambda Legal's work to secure justice and accountability for the murder of Brandon Teena, a transgender man who was brutally raped and then killed by his rapists after law enforcement failed to intervene".