Jorge Diaz-Johnston. (Facebook/ Don Diaz-Johnston)
Police in Florida have opened a homicide investigation, after LGBT+ rights hero Jorge Diaz-Johnston was found dead in a landfill.
Diaz-Johnston, 54, was one of those who fought for the legalisation of same-sex marriage in Florida.
In 2014, he and his husband were among six same-sex couples who sued the Miami-Dade County clerk’s office for the right to marry.
At the time, Diaz-Johnston said that it was “not 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”.
The couples won their case in 2015, meaning that the county legalised marriage equality months before the rest of the US.
Diaz-Johnston was last seen on 3 January, and on Saturday, 8 January, he was tragically found dead in a landfill in Baker, Florida.
His death is being treated as a homicide, and his funeral was held on Friday, 14 January.
Update: Jorge Diaz-Johnston was sadly located deceased around 9:30 a.m. on Jan. 8 in Jackson County. At this time the Tallahassee Police Department is investigating Diaz-Johnston’s death as a homicide.
— Tallahassee Police (@TallyPD) January 12, 2022
His husband, Don Diaz-Johnston, wrote on Facebook: “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.
“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.”
The couple’s fellow plaintiffs in the Florida marriage equality case also mourned the loss of the “fierce advocate”.
They said: “It is with profound sadness that we, as fellow plaintiff couples, come together to remember Jorge Diaz-Johnston, our brother in the fight for LGBTQ+ equality.
“His warm smile and easygoing manner made you forget that he was also a fierce advocate that worked in and for our community for many years. His legacy connection to marriage equality has been remembered most this week, but those who knew him will keep alive the memory of his broader, enduring impact on the lives of those around him.
“He danced at our weddings, he laughed with our children, and he forever became a part of our plaintiff couples family.
“He leaves behind his husband Don Diaz Johnston, whom we hold even closer in our hearts today. Rest well Jorge, in the love that sustained you, and the knowledge that you left the world a little better for future generations.”
Diaz-Johnston was also the brother of former Miami mayor Manny Diaz, who said: “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.
“My brother was such a special gift to this world whose heart and legacy will continue to live on for generations to come.”