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Crime News Breaking News

Florida Man Once Involved In Historic Same-Sex Marriage Legal Victory Is Found Dead In Landfill

Police said Jorge Diaz-Johnston was last seen near his work in Tallahassee on Jan. 3. They're investigating his death as a homicide.

By Jill Sederstrom
A Personal photo of Jorge Diaz Johnston

A Florida man once involved in a historic same-sex marriage legal victory has been found dead in a landfill in what police are investigating as a homicide.  

Jorge Diaz-Johnston, 54, was discovered in a Jackson County landfill around 9:30 a.m. on Jan. 8—five days after he was last seen alive in Tallahassee, according to statements from the Tallahassee Police Department and Oskaloosa County Sheriff’s Office.

Diaz-Johnston was reported missing Jan. 3 after he had last been spotted near his workplace, a police spokesperson told ABC News.

Diaz-Johnston and his husband, Don Johnston, were plaintiffs in a 2014 lawsuit against the Miami-Dade County Clerk’s Office after officials there had refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses. The judge sided with the plaintiffs in the case and Miami-Dade County became the first county in the state to legalize same-sex marriages. Diaz-Johnston remained an active LGBTQ activist in Florida until his death.

“We are heartbroken to learn of the death of Jorge,” Equality Florida, the group behind the petition, said Thursday. “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.”  

In a statement Wednesday on Facebook, Don Johnston said there were “no words” for the loss.

“I can’t stop crying as I try and write this,” he wrote. “But he meant so much to all of you as he did to me. So I am fighting through tears to share with you our loss of him.”

Johnston went on to describe his husband as someone who had “touched so many people with his kind and generous heart.”

Diaz-Johnston’s brother, Manny Diaz, who once served as mayor in Miami and now serves as the chair of the Florida Democratic Party, also memorialized the 54-year-old on Twitter.

“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,” he wrote. “My brother was such a special gift to this world whose heart and legacy will continue to live on for generations to come.”  

No cause of death has been released and police told ABC News they have not determined a motive in the slaying.

Oxygen.com reached out to police for additional updates in the investigation, but did not receive an immediate response.

Anyone with information about the case is urged to call the Tallahassee Police Department at (850) 891-4200.

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