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Houston Judge,
AIDS Activist, Dies at 63

Houston Judge,
AIDS Activist, Dies at 63

John Paul Barnich, Texas's first openly gay city court judge, died in Houston on Monday from diabetes-related complications. He was 63.

John Paul Barnich, Texas's first openly gay city court judge, died in Houston on Monday from diabetes-related complications. He was 63.

Barnich was appointed to the court by Mayor Lee Brown in 1999, serving on the bench until October 2007, when he resigned due to failing health, according to the Houston Chronicle.

As an attorney, Barnich was also the founder of the Bar Association for Human Rights and volunteered pro bono service, especially for gay rights and HIV-related cases. He was also on the board of the Houston AIDS Foundation, 10 years before his partner died of the virus in 1994, serving four years as the board's chairman. He spent six months in India as a Fulbright scholar and has won several human rights awards for his social justice work.

"Barnich had strong feelings about right and wrong, which often ran deep but, as those who knew him can attest, not often silent," an obituary prepared by friends read. "He did not hesitate to utilize any means necessary to obtain justice, often not just for one but for all."

One of his more memorable cases was a case against a dental franchise that refused to treat people living with AIDS. (Michelle Garcia, Advocate.com)

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