Michaela Jae Rodriguez
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LGBTQ+ Rights Activist Found Dead in Florida Landfill

Photo of Diaz-Johnston

Authorities in Florida are investigating the death of Jorge Diaz-Johnston, an LGBTQ+ activist who won a landmark court case in Miami-Dade County against the state’s ban on same-sex marriages. He was 54.

Diaz-Johnston vanished from Tallahassee January 3, according to Miami TV station WPLG. Detectives found his remains in a trash pile at a landfill Saturday morning in Jackson County, Fla., which is west of Tallahassee. 

Police are treating the case as a homicide.

Investigators said in a release that the trash Diaz-Johnston's remains were found in came from a metal bay at another landfill. They added that any person or company has access to it.

Diaz-Johnston and his husband, Don Johnston, were one of six couples who successfully sued the Miami-Dade County Clerk’s Office after the office denied them marriage licenses in 2014.

The activist leaves behind his husband and his brother, Manny Diaz, who is a former mayor of Miami and is currently the Florida Democratic Party Chair.

“He touched so many people with his kind and generous heart,” Johnston said in a Facebook post.

Diaz-Johnston’s brother released a statement thanking community members for the support shown to his family and to Johnston.

“My brother was such a special gift to this world whose heart and legacy will continue to live on for generations to come. I am also so very grateful to the Tallahassee Police Department — with the support of Mayor Daley and City Manager Reed — who have worked tirelessly to locate and investigate the circumstances surrounding my brother’s disappearance,” Diaz said.

LGBTQ+ rights group Equality Florida honored Diaz-Johnston in a statement on Twitter.

“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 group wrote.

Local authorities have asked anyone who may have information regarding Diaz-Johnston's death to please call the Tallahassee Police Department at (850) 891-4200. Callers may also remain anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers at (850) 574-TIPS.

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