Jorge Diaz-Johnston was found dead. The 54-year-old’s body was discovered in the Springhill Landfill in Campbellton, Fla. Authorities have opened an investigation and are calling the death a homicide.
The Florida man became famous in 2014 after a historic same-sex marriage lawsuit changed the state’s law and made gay marriage legal in the state. Diaz-Johnston, and the man who became his husband, Don Diaz-Johnston, were one of six couples who sued Miami-Dade County Clerk’s Office after they were denied marriage licenses.
Diaz-Johnston was last seen on Jan. 3 on the 2800 block of Remington Green Circle in Tallahassee. He was reported missing on Jan. 8 and his body was found in a pile of trash the same day. According to reports, officials believe that Diaz-Johnston’s body came from a public area in another landfill in Baker, Fla, nearly two hours away from where he was last seen.
After the discovery of the body, Tallahassee Police tweeted, “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.”
Jorge Diaz-Johnston’s body was officially identified on Wednesday. It is still unclear how Jorge Diaz-Johnston made it to either landfill. A cause of death has not been determined.
In June 2014, a judge ruled in favor of the couples and then in early 2015 a federal judge allowed same-sex marriage to be legal, which made Florida the 36th state to pass a law allowing gay marriage.
Jorge and his husband were married on March 28, 2015.
After his death, Don Diaz-Johnston took to Facebook to mourn his husband. He said, “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.”
He added, “I just couldn’t wait any longer to share with you our profound loss. Please share the news with everyone you can. He touched so many people with his kind and generous heart. It seems impossible to even fathom how to tell them all. But if you want to help, that is how you can. By sharing the best of him with each other.”
Since his death, Jorge Diaz-Johnston was remembered by friends, family and other members of the LGBTQ community whose lives were touched by his. Stratton Pollitzer, deputy director of Equality Florida, which is the state’s biggest LGBTQ group, talked about Diaz-Johnston’s impact on the community.
He said, “Jorge was a crucial part of this historic lawsuit that’s one of the biggest moments of the LGBTQ civil rights movement in Florida history. It’s incomprehensible to hear that one of our heroes has been taken from us.”
Nadine Smith, executive director of the group, said she was heartbroken to learn that Jorge Diaz-Johnston was found dead. She said, “Jorge and his husband Don were two of the brave plaintiffs who took on Florida’s anti-gay marriage ban and helped pave the way for marriage equality for all Floridians. Our deepest condolences Don and Jorge’s extended family.”
Tallahassee police continue to investigate Diaz-Johnston’s death and are asking anyone with information to call their offices.
Officers ask anyone who may have information regarding this incident to please call TPD at 850-891-4200. They may also remain anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers at 850-574-TIPS.