Longtime LGBT Rights Activist Paula Ettelbrick Dies

(photos rex wockner)

Longtime LGBT rights activist Paula Ettelbrick has died.

NYC's Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC) writes, in a press release:

This morning, Paula L. Ettelbrick died of causes related to cancer. For more than a quarter of century, she was a tenacious fighter for the rights of LGBT people. Many of us at GMHC had the honor of partnering with her when she worked at the Empire State Pride Agenda, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission and more recently when was the Executive Director of the Stonewall Community Foundation. Not only was she concerned about human rights in the United States, she advocated globally for the rights of LGBT people, particularly those impacted by the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

According to former NGLTF head Matt Foreman, "While Legislative Counsel for the Empire State Pride Agenda she negotiated New York City's landmark 1997 domestic partnership law with then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. At the time, it was the nation's most comprehensive measure in this area, extending to domestic partners all the same rights and benefits offered to spouses under City law."

Lambda Legal released a statement this morning as well:

Ettelbrick was the first staff attorney at Lambda Legal in 1986 and served as its Legal Director from 1988 to 1993.

Said Kevin Cathcart, Lambda Legal's Executive Director:

"We mourn the loss of one of the pioneers of our movement for equality under the law and a woman who never stopped fighting for social justice. When Paula Ettelbrick came to Lambda Legal twenty-five years ago to fight for the rights of gay men and lesbians, it took not only vision and a passion for justice – it also took courage to stand up in court and in the public eye during that earlier time in our history. Paula was fearless.  She was among a generation of lawyers, feminists and activists that helped to shape our movement. At Lambda Legal, she fought for the rights of lesbian and gay parents and lesbian and gay students, and helped to shape the strategy that eventually overturned sodomy laws. She continued working for LGBT equality and social justice, serving in many leadership positions after she left Lambda Legal.  Our thoughts and condolences are with her family and loved ones. We have lost a leader, colleague and friend. We will honor her memory by continuing to work for equality."

The LGBT community and all who fight for equality have lost a great friend. Our condolences to her family and those who knew her.

Posted October 7, 2011 at 12:06pm ETC by Andy Towle
in Deaths, News