Bruce Voeller, a research scientist and gay rights activist who campaigned for the use of condoms to combat AIDS, has died of the disease. He was 59.
Voeller died Feb. 13 at his home in Topanga.
A frequent witness before Congress on homosexuality and the gay rights movement, Voeller had helped found the National Gay Task Force in 1973. He served as executive director of the influential lobbying group from 1973 to 1978.
In 1980, Voeller established the Mariposa Education & Research Foundation to conduct research in human sexuality and find ways to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted diseases.
The group commissioned sculptures by George Segal that are now in place in Stanford University's sculpture garden and in New York City's Greenwich Village.
Voeller focused his research on condoms and spermicides. He persuaded the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control to join him in testing nonoxynol-9, the chief ingredient in popular spermicides, for inactivating HIV.
A graduate of Reed College, Voeller earned his doctorate in developmental biology, biochemistry and developmental genetics at New York's Rockefeller University. During his tenure as associate professor at Rockefeller, he wrote four books, including "Basic Biology" and "Three Centuries of Botany in North America."
At age 29, although he was married with three children, Voeller acknowledged his homosexuality, having vowed to do so before his 30th birthday. He said he had to "be true to himself in order to be true to others." His child custody battle after his divorce went to the Supreme Court and became a test case for child visitation rights of gay parents.
Voeller is survived by his companion and associate at Mariposa Foundation, Richard Lucik; three children, Jan Voeller of Boulder, Colo., Christopher Voeller of Toledo, Ohio, and Suzanne Sundheim of Philadelphia; and two sisters, Nancy Petron of Sacramento and Ginger Ferguson of British Columbia.