Story at a glance
- A Florida LGBTQ+ rights activist was found dead in a landfill this week in what police are investigating as a homicide.
- The remains of Jorge Diaz-Johnston were found in a trash pile on Jan. 8. Authorities say he was last seen alive on Jan. 3.
- Diaz-Johnston and his husband, Don, were one of six couples who sued the Miami-Dade County clerk’s office when they were denied marriage licenses.
A prominent Florida LGBTQ+ rights advocate who played a critical role in the state’s legalization of same-sex marriage was found dead last weekend in a landfill. Police said Wednesday they are investigating the incident as a homicide.
Jorge Diaz-Johnston, 54, had been reported missing by Tallahassee police on Jan. 8, the same day his body was located. He had last been seen alive on Jan. 3, authorities said.
The remains of Diaz-Johnston, the brother of former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, were found in a trash pile at the Baker landfill in Jackson County, Fla. around 9:30 a.m., according to the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office.
“I am profoundly appreciative of the outpouring of support shown to me, my brother-in-law Don, and my family after the loss of my brother, Jorge Diaz-Johnston,” Manny Diaz, who served as Miami’s mayor from 2001 to 2009, wrote Thursday on Twitter. “My brother was such a special gift to this world whose heart and legacy will continue to live on for generations to come.”
Diaz-Johnston and his husband, Don Diaz-Johnston, were one of six same-sex couples who in 2014 sued the Miami-Dade County clerk’s office after they were denied marriage licenses.
“For us, it's not just only a question of love and wanting to express our love and have the benefits that everyone else has in the state, but it’s an issue of equality, and it’s a civil rights issue,” Jorge Diaz-Johnston told NBC Miami at the time.
A Miami-Dade circuit court judge ruled in the couples’ favor in January 2015, months before the Supreme Court would go on to legalize same-sex marriage in all 50 states.
“We are heartbroken to learn of the death of Jorge. He and his husband Don were two of the brave plaintiffs who took on Florida’s anti-gay marriage ban and helped win marriage equality for all Floridians,” the LGBTQ+ political advocacy group Equality Florida wrote Thursday on Twitter.
Jorge Diaz-Johnston and Don Diaz-Johnston married in 2015, shortly after they had won their case.
“There are just no words for the loss of my beloved husband Jorge Isaias Diaz-Johnston,” Don Diaz-Johnston wrote Wednesday in a Facebook post. “I can’t stop crying as I try and write this. But he meant so much to all of you as he did to me. So I am fighting through the tears to share with you our loss of him.”
A private funeral will be held for the family in Miami, Diaz-Johnston wrote, and an open virtual service will likely be held at a later date.
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