Attorney Paula Ettelbrick, a pioneering advocate for gay rights, has died.

According to the Stonewall Community Foundation, Ettelbrick, 56, died of cancer Friday in New York. She was the group's executive director.

The mother of two helped broaden the legal definition of family to include same-sex partners. In the 1980s, Ettelbrick argued publicly that gay and lesbian couples should have the right to marry.

She was involved in a key legal victory: persuading New York City to grant domestic partner rights and benefits equal to those of traditional spouses. Ettelbrick also held top positions in groups such as the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. -- AP

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