Florida Gay Rights Activist Found Dead In Landfill, Prompting Homicide Probe

·2 min read
Don Johnston and Jorge Diaz outside a Miami courthouse in 2014 during their fight to legalize gay marriage. Jorge Diaz-Johnston's body was found at a north Florida landfill on Jan. 8. (Photo: via Associated Press)
Don Johnston and Jorge Diaz outside a Miami courthouse in 2014 during their fight to legalize gay marriage. Jorge Diaz-Johnston's body was found at a north Florida landfill on Jan. 8. (Photo: via Associated Press)

A gay rights activist whose participation in a 2014 legal fight led to a landmark same-sex marriage victory in Florida has been found dead. His death has been ruled a homicide, police said.

Jorge Diaz-Johnston, 54, had not been seen since Jan. 3 when his body was found at a Jackson County landfill on Jan. 8, roughly 90 miles west of where he was last seen in Tallahassee, authorities said.

The trash had initially been collected from another nearby landfill, which is accessible to the public, according to the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office, which said an autopsy will determine a cause of death.

Diaz-Johnston ― whose brother is Manny Diaz, the chair of the Florida Democratic Party and the former mayor of Miami ― had been living in Tallahassee at the time of his disappearance.

Jorge Diaz-Johnston and his then-partner Don Johnston were one of six couples involved in a lawsuit filed against Miami-Dade County over its same-sex marriage ban. (Photo: Tallahassee Police Department)
Jorge Diaz-Johnston and his then-partner Don Johnston were one of six couples involved in a lawsuit filed against Miami-Dade County over its same-sex marriage ban. (Photo: Tallahassee Police Department)

In 2014, Diaz-Johnston and his then-partner, Don Johnston, were one of six couples involved in a lawsuit filed against Miami-Dade County over its same-sex marriage ban, according to the Miami Herald. The plaintiffs won in 2015, leading to the first gay couples marrying in Florida.

The couple, who were also married in 2015, were not living together when Jorge Diaz-Johnston disappeared. Don Diaz-Johnston, as he is now known, has not been ruled out as a suspect.

Jorge Diaz-Johnston’s roommate has also been questioned, TV station Local 10 News reported Saturday.

Tallahassee police did not respond to HuffPost’s requests for comment on Sunday.

Don Diaz-Johnston expressed his heartbreak at the news of his spouse’s death in a Facebook post on Wednesday.

“He touched so many people with his kind and generous heart,” he wrote. “There are just no words for the loss of my beloved husband Jorge Isaias Diaz-Johnston. I can’t stop crying as I try and write this.”

Manny Diaz, in a statement posted to Twitter on Thursday, thanked local authorities for their continuing investigation.

“Their commitment has meant the world to my family and will continue to mean the world in our search for justice,” he said. “My brother was such a special gift to this world whose heart and legacy will continue to live on for generations to come.”

This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.