Barrett Brick, 59; lawyer supported gay rights

WASHINGTON — Barrett Brick, a government lawyer and gay rights advocate who successfully campaigned to include antihomosexual violence as a staple of the State Department’s annual human rights report, died Sept. 22 at the ManorCare nursing home in Bethesda, Md. He was 59.

The cause was cancer, said his husband of 14 years, Antonio Ruffini.

Mr. Brick, a Washington resident, spent 30 years as a lawyer at the Federal Communications Commission before retiring in 2010. He also held leadership positions in organizations for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities and championed gay interests nationally and internationally.


He served as executive director of the World Congress of Gay and Lesbian Jewish Organizations from 1987 to 1993. In 1991, he was part of a group of three Washington activists that pressed the State Department to further investigate and include antigay episodes and homophobic violence in its annual report to Congress on global human rights practices.

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The 1990 human rights report included a single gay-specific citation — on Denmark’s legalization of gay marriage. This motivated the activists to meet with the report’s director to show evidence of numerous, violent antigay events left out of the report.

Michael Petrelis, one of the activists, said the director was receptive, and the reports were expanded in following years. Today, the reports include a section specifically on acts of violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

‘‘He worked to make the world a better place for gay people beyond our borders,’’ said Petrelis, a former representative of the international AIDS advocacy group ACT UP.

Mr. Brick was also involved in a number of Jewish organizations and was past president of Bet Mishpachah, a Washington congregation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Jews.


According to the Rainbow History Project, an organization that documents Washington’s LGBT history, he was an early and important voice in the lobbying effort in the early 1980s to include a commemoration to gay Holocaust victims in the newly established US Holocaust Memorial Museum.

‘‘Never again will the world deny we were killed for whom we loved,’’ Mr. Brick told The Washington Post in 1993, after the museum’s dedication.

He often gave sermons and ‘‘was an early and strong voice for inclusion of the faith community in LGBT organizing and strategizing,’’ said Richard Rosendall, president of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington.