Morty Manford, 41, an early activist for gay rights who was at the Stonewall Inn, a Greenwich Village bar, when gay customers and raiding police officers battled in 1969. That event became a pivotal moment in the militancy of the modern gay rights movement. He also helped found Gay People at Columbia University, one of the nation’s first gay campus organizations. In 1972 he brought assault charges against Michael Maye, then president of New York City’s Uniformed Firefighters Assn., for allegedly throwing him down a flight of stairs and beating him when gays were demonstrating over a perceived lack of media attention. Although Maye was acquitted, the trial drew widespread attention to attacks on homosexuals and led to a New York City gay rights law. Although Manford spent most of his life in New York, where he was an assistant state attorney general, he was an important figure on both coasts and helped form gay rights and support groups in Los Angeles. In Flushing, N.Y., on May 14 of the complications of AIDS.